Aim: Drawing moving figures or a changing scene can be extremely challenging. A large part of that challenge, however, is your own conception of the purpose. By taking a step back from trying to pin the action down to a static conclusion, and instead making a drawing which is a record of the movement and action itself, we can begin to reflect on how to balance movement and form to create a dynamic image.
Method: find a busy scene, with plenty of movement – as something catches your eye , capture it the best you can. Keep responding to movement to build up a drawing full of dynamic energy. You should be able to make a drawing which captures a sense of time elapsed, rather like a photographic long exposure…
How to capture a movement? this was a first question i had. Looking for a scene was another dilemma – i’m not that comfortable sketching with people around to be honest.
I decided to capture a movement of the trees in the wind – these trees are what i can see out of the door of my shed/studio space, they are behind our fence and located in the next few gardens. I’ve spent some time by just looking at the moving branches and clouds above them. As leaves trembled in the wind they’ve created a mass of changing colour and shapes. Branches, as the wind was picking up, became some sort of tentacles that were fighting each other and at times appeared separated from the leaves they bear. Contrasting blue-grey sky with fast moving clouds added to the dramatic atmosphere and started to seem as a continuation with the moving foliage in front of them ( my angle of viewing was about 45 degrees upwards and framed by the door, hence eliminating the rest of the picture).
After some time of observing I have decided to use 4 pieces of textured pastel coloured paper. each 30×30 cm – top 2 blue and green to coordinate withe sky-foliage, and 2 yellow brown pieces to act as a fence for now. Even though i was not going to use fence in the end result the addition of space here allowed me to feel the space better and not to be restricted in gesture movements. Pieces were lined up and attached on the back with masking tape.
Starting with dark ( blue, brown) and white i applied large masses of moving foliage and a few clouds using sponge and a large household brush. While the paint was wet using branches and sticks i scraped the branches trying to look at the movement rather than on to the paper – this resulted in a few tears but they got masked later by consecutive layers.
below- the top part
below with the fence
This was let to dry and later covered with acrylic binder. Next i used lighter colours – yellows, greens and white to add some sunlight and a difference in tone. Sun was coming out between the clouds and the scene was changing from dull to bright in short intervals. while the applied paint was wet i used some white spirit to create texture ( leaves) later covering this using binder. The surface of the drawing is very shiny due to binder and if one moves along the picture this allows for the light to reflect off the areas adding to the effect of light on leaves.
Below: 1. two sides together, at an angle as the binder reflects light so it is not easy to photograph,
2 Left side
3 Right side
As it advised in the brief for the exercise i tried to capture elements that were moving and changing rather than being concerned with every detail. In this drawing i spend as much time looking at my subject as the actual process of making. The overall duration was at least a few days between looking – application – drying time- layering and so on. The result may seem chaotic but i feel that i achieved a certain dynamism in the picture and captured a movement in a series of overlapping impressions i was seeing in front of me.
I’ve tried to make a few sketches while in the car next to a supermarket – i used an A2 sheet and a pencil. It was not very easy to capture a moving figure, i found myself concentrating on a slower moving one or partially static just to be able to capture the figure. Back home i decided to go over these sketches and add extra movement. I used charcoal to duplicate and shift the figurse in space. I was using as example work of Marcel Duchamp ” Nude, descending a staircase 2″ 1912; where he generates an illusion of movement through changes of positions and multiple lines.
I do not feel that the whole composition create a dynamic picture , certain element are better than the first attempt but i can’t say that i’m too please with it. The one i think has more movement is the last quick sketch i did of a couple having some sort of an argument , ( third on the bottom ).
Perhaps i could add to it later…
Some time later: the idea of moving image, layered time laps and waves in the air as the object moves … I added lines that imply the ripples in air/time as a person moves or stands . I think as an idea it can be developed further, this change to the sketch , in my opinion, approved the idea of movement in the scene as a whole.
What were the main challenges in working this way?
One of the main challenges was to decide what to focus on and what to let go. The moving object does not pose or wait for one to draw every detail. Also the format – i did try to use smaller paper but found it quite restrictive – my personal experience of course – i was running out of surface before i made a mark so to say.
Did you feel comfortable focusing on movement at the expense of a more finished effect?
Yes i believe i did. I enjoyed the gestural element of the process as well as engagement through observation and decision making on the spot.
Did you choose the right materials for the job?
I feel that for what i was doing the materials served their purpose, but only through practice this could be answered with more confidence.
What would you do differently another time?
Probably try out ink pens or watercolour for they have fluidity and may generate a softer contrasts that later could be overlaid with linear markings. I would also might try a larger format – i feel it works well with the gestural elements here. Main thing is to get more confident and try to draw in public places to experience a closer connection with the movement of crowds.