What’s gestural drawing?



gestural drawing, expressive drawing, expressionist drawing and painting for beginners, merseyside and lancashire
One of my examples of gestural drawing, or free drawing, or expressionistic drawing. In other words, drawing not in a purely descriptive way - Which is what beginners do...












gestural painting and drawing for beginners, merseyside, gestural drawing, expressionistic painting
...The above image, now having applied ink.



exerperimental painting by artist roy munday. Teaches art on merseyside, art classes
More gestural painting. Based on a humble teapot.
Repetitive drawing, superimposing, allowing instinct, repeating shapes to achieve a more harmonious result. Still early days.












roy munday, art classes, for beginners, new way of painting, expressively
Once you get a feel towards a more expressive way of painting, you can return to descriptive ways. Towards semi-abstract, a more expressive way to paint.

Members experimenting!

an experimental drawing of liveprool waterfront, done by a beginner in the art class, working towards semi-abstraction
This creative gestural drawing was done from a photo of Liverpool waterfront. The intention wasn't to merely copy the photo, but to simply make the first mark, then respond to it, and so on... eventually a story, narrative will start to evolve - hopefully!
beginner art class in Southport, liverpool, merseyside, a members experimental drawing using 4 pencils taped together to create a lively and free style drawing
This study was done by taping 4 pencils together!, hence the multiple lines!
Try doing this with one pencil and the result wouldn't be as free and exciting. Now the artist has been opened up to what can happen when you take chances, then they can obtain the same result with one pencil! You work quickly and instinctively - Suddenly art becomes very exciting!

Abstract expressionism

abstract expressionistic painting by Jackson Pollock, metropolitan museum, New York
An example of Abstract Expressionism, as painted by Jackson Pollock

Gestural drawing & painting

When beginners take up art they will work photographically, because that is how we see the world around us. So it becomes the default position. But when we consider this approach, we soon learn that it is a very limited view of the world, as beginners will lack the skill, courage and guidance to experiment with the drawing and painting process. We only have to look at art history to realize that artist have from time to time challenged accepted art practice.

A good example is the birth of Impressionism in the 1860's in Paris, lead by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and others. They challenged the accepted way of doing art, rebelled against it and Impressionism was born. 12 years later and a new generation came along, Matisse (Fauvism), Picasso (Cubism). In the 1940's Abstract Expressionism was born, Jackson Pollock. In the 1960's Andy Warhol and Pop Art, and so on, with little further shifts in experimentation. Non of these new 'isms' were greeted with enthusiasm by most of the art critics, or indeed the public. But within a short period of time they are seen as the 'New Thing' and start to fetch high prices in sales!


Thinking beyond mere representation

The biggest challenge when members take up this way of working is they find it difficult to think out of 'the box', or their 'comfort zone'. This is way it has to be a gradual step-by-step approach. But almost without exception members get a real benefit from experimenting with gestural drawing and painting. Suddenly another creative world opens up for them, one without preconceptions where everything is possible and where nothing is either right or wrong!

…be inspired but never copy; the emotional detachment associated with copied work will make the painting lack the feeling and the soul of the original piece. It will always be a paler imitation. Slavishly copying, like calendar photo or whatever source, can potentially create soulless results.


More creative results!

life drawing class, merseyside, near me, pastel of figure

This is an example of one of our members where the artist has been creative but keeping the subject representational so that we can still make sense of the overall image.

gestural drawing and painting, example of member of the sefton art group, image of teapot and cup
This example was done by the artist not looking at the drawing! Just moving the hand in hopefully the right direction! The outcome isn't to draw an accurate drawing, but to see what happens when you start to think and work in a more creative way. Then you can re-work the image as much as you wish. The results will often surprise you, otherwise you will simply draw and paint as if capturing a photo.
beginners class, piece of art work, pair of old boots, done in mixed media, gestural drawing and paint, art class done in southport, merseyside
A tip when learning gestural, free drawing or painting, keep the subject simple, to allow you to focus on the creative side. In this example, mixed media was used.
As you can see, a simple object, pair of boots, can be turned into a work of art. It's not so much about the subject matter, but how to be more creative than mere copying.

Above, an example of Abstract Expressionism, by Jackson Pollock. It's all too easy to look at his work and see nothing but squiggles and randomness. But on closer examination you see more...! That appearance of randomness becomes something more considered; that there is a thought process at work, as you might use in a more descriptive way of working. Often the mark-making is repeated. The artist is using eye, brain and hand co-ordination, while dripping, throwing paint across the canvas. End result sees a lot of repeated mark making that gives the canvas a harmonious and unified appearance.

...more on gestural drawing and painting >