Having thought about depicting fast movements for a long time and having looked at many drawings depicting dancers and other moving characters across different genre I have come to the following conclusions:
Achieving the feeling of fast movements in a drawing is difficult! The drawing itself needs to encompass most, if not all of the following:
- Energy (this may be extended to explosive energy)
- Muscle power (although this will vary with context and may or may not include muscle control)
- Poise (although some movements may have unpredictable consequences and inevitably most movements will be unstable)
- An axis of rotation around which the figure will move (not necessarily a vertical axis).
It seems to me that there are 4 areas within a drawing where movement can be depicted. (Note; not all drawings will have all of these, and indeed there are plenty of examples where an artist has only considered one of these):
- The pose the figure takes, or where the limbs and torso are in space. For instance, if a person is drawn with limbs in the position of running, the viewer will recognise this and have some notion of the movement. The use of shadows will be very important to either anchor parts of the body to the ground or indeed to suggest flight through the air. Multiple poses in one drawing (either of same figure or different figures) give an idea of movement either through time (in the case of the same figure drawn multiple times as in a time-lapse piece) or simultaneously (as in the case of several figures all in slightly different poses of the same movement). Flow of clothing material can also show movement.
- Mark making for the figure. Quick, gestural marks suggest fast movement. These may be used to indicate direction of movement too by drawing the eye of the viewer along. Blurred edges suggest fast movement as our eyes are unable to track edges fast enough. Lines within the figure indicating axis of rotation or planes of the body.
- Mark making for the background. Gestural background marks put the figure in the context of movement by drawing the viewer’s eye in the direction of the movement. A sharper, grounded background can be used to contrast with a more gestural moving figure to again suggest movement within a space.
- Drawing locomotion itself. By this I mean drawings where the outcome of the mark making is the consequence of the artist actually carrying out a particular movement. There is no figure in this type of drawing, the image is the resulting line showing paths of movement.
I have decided to concentrate primarily on dancers as my ‘models’ for this project although the Olympics have also been on for much of the time I have been thinking and doing preliminary drawings for this project. Athletes are prime examples of figures carrying out energetic, explosive and fast movements. Drawings of dancers have been more popular over the centuries so I have stuck to those of the time being but would like to draw some athletes is time allows.