Gestalt through Gestural Drawings
The act of gestural drawing is one practiced by artists, designers, architects, and other creative professionals. Its purpose is to capture the “gestalt,” or overall essence or form of an object, space, building, etc. Usually gesture drawings are done in a matter of seconds. For architects, we often see these in sketchbooks or on napkins as quick conceptual diagrams, or after-the-fact as “parti” drawings that show the basic dynamics of a structure. Below, Renzo Piano’s initial gesture drawing for the California Academy of Arts museum in San Francisco clearly translated into the final building, whose green roof follows an undulating line first imagined in the gesture.
Another famous gesture artist was Picasso, who used the gesture as simple line drawings of everyday objects, like his dachshund named Lump. His quick gesture sketch of Lump is one of his most famous drawings, seen in pop culture and even made into jewelry.
With our students, we showed some examples of great gestural drawings (like the ones above, some architectural, some more artistic, like sketches of a fist done in ten seconds). Then I put up on the projector a series of 10 images, and we all did gestures of each one. They ranged from 5 second drawings to full minutes, or left-handed drawings or “with your eyes closed” or “don’t pick up your pen from the paper.” I also instituted a “no bashing rule,” wherein none of us were allowed to say “Ugh, mine is so ugly!” or “Mine looks like a foot!” The purpose of the gesture is not to accurately draw the object, but to represent its feeling and most basic elements in a very quick stroke of the hand. Below are some of the fantastic examples of students’ gestures!