Investigating methods of representing movement in drawings
The biomechanics of movement interests me professionally so I was keen to expand my art practice to encompass this. In Part 4 I became obsessed with trying to depict movement in one exercise, repeatedly drawing it in an attempt to capture the essence of movement. Investigating methods of representing movement in drawing is a natural continuation from that point. I decided to concentrate on dancers initially. Dancers move with power and grace, performing explosive jumping movements seemingly effortlessly. Their well-defined muscles make great anatomical studies.
Scientifically there are three things that define what happens when a person jumps: muscles power the jump; kinetic energy is transferred into potential energy; and directional movement occurs. Artistically these translate to a drawing that must convey a sense of muscle strength, exhibit explosive energy and be full of movement. The aim of my project was to investigate how these three things may be represented in a drawing, capturing a fleeting moment of movement.
My investigations into representing movement took me in several different directions. Initially I tried to capture the idea of muscle power and tension using different media and mark making. I was becoming aware that background marks were very useful in conveying movement by drawing your eye along a movement path; but they have to be in the right place to be effective! I experimented with several types of different media and mark making. However I found that whilst I might be able to depict a pose with muscle anatomy and muscle strength evident, the idea of the fleeting moment eluded me. In response to this I considered ways in which such fleeting moments are captured in everyday life: through photograph. This led me to create a series of drawings in which I captured fleeting moments of light moving against a dark sky on a camera. The very essence of movement is evident in these light drawings and I realised that you don’t necessarily need to portray muscle strength and power if you have manage to capture this.
Capturing light with long-exposure photography made me think about artists who were drawing movement in different ways and investigated drawing as a response to seeing movement. The results were very abstract but you could interpret them as having a sense of energy or movement. Some were quite atmospheric.
For my final piece I tried to bring this investigative work together and encompass the idea of capturing more than a fleeting moment through photograph by drawing sequential figures on the same sheet thus providing a sense of movement over time. Colour hadn’t added much to my investigative studies so I chose to work in charcoal whose fugitive nature allows manipulation and soft edges allow the body outline to appear to be moving. I used sweeping marks of clear gesso to suggest forward movement as a visual response by the viewer to the idea of a jump.
This investigation was quite an organic process with my drawing going in ways I hadn’t considered at the start. At times it felt quite disjointed and frustrating with outcomes not what I was expecting. On reflection however I can see that it was the more investigative work that was the most successful in helping me understanding what it means to capture movement in a drawing.