One technique used by artists to quickly capture a pose is called gesture drawing. Gesture drawing is essentially a scribble, a series of very quick lines or shapes that capture the essence of a pose. The artist usually focuses on the direction of the object and on capturing the angles and masses of it. A gesture drawing is used to give the viewer an idea of the position the object was in, not to record detail. I will have students start by doing a series of gesture drawing of the figure until they get the hang of it. Gesture drawing should also be useful as a step to help breakdown objects into shapes, since it is a similar process of simplification.
Previous to this unit students will have become familiar with Cezanne's theory that everything can be broken down into geometric forms -- cones, rectangles, spheres and cylinders. Through drawing masses in gesture drawing we will review some of this simplification. Students must then take their idea for technology and break it into these basic geometric building blocks. I will model using the human figure to start, since many of my students' paintings may involve the figure.
In my demonstration I will ask where we should start the simplification -- it is fairly obvious which shapes each body part would become. The head becomes an oval, the torso a trapezoid with the larger width at the shoulders, the pelvis a small rectangle, and each appendage two attached cylinders. Students will practice with the figure and then will continue to breakdown any other objects they need to. We will revisit The Knife Grinder so students can see how Malevich simplified his figure. We will also look at examples of Leger again, who also simplified figures in a similar way.