How to Get Students to Create Gestural Drawing


How to get students to create gestural drawing is a question many art teachers have asked themselves.  I saw the beautiful, gestural drawings below on Facebook posted by art teacher Joan Martin. They were posted with the comment:

“I’m trying to get my grade 11 class to work in a more expressive manner. These were 20min studies from still life objects.”

Students in grade 11 are approximately 16.

It is good to get our students experimenting with a range of approaches and I would certainly be happy if my students produced work like the examples below.  I asked Joan how she got her students to work so freely, and the great advice below is what she told me.

How to Get Students to Create Gestural Drawing

“The exercise was based on an exercise in a book I recently acquired: “The Drawing Projects: An Exploration of the Language of Drawing by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern” It really is a beautiful book to inspire more experimental approaches to drawing. In this exercise, the students had to observe the form of the still life object they chose from a display.”

Gestrual Drawing

Joan went on to outline the following steps:

  1. They had to tie two pencils together and start drawing by suggesting the form of the object without drawing outlines.
  2. They were encouraged to use dots, dashes, swirling marks until they had suggested the form. I spoke about making thicker, darker marks where the values were darker on their reference objects.
  3. Once they had built up enough form, after about 10mins of drawing, they had to separate the pencils and work into the drawing by adding more careful and considered detail. They could also smudge the values/marks if they so wished.

How to Get Students to Create Gestural Drawing Gestural drawing of a boot How to Get Students to Create Gestural Drawing Gestural drawing of a frog

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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