This post talks about the calming effects of gesture drawings in the Poultry Barn at the State Fair.
I can't help myself, I love nothing more than watching chickens move—they are the perfect subject for gesture sketches. No matter how many "protraits" I may attempt of the calmer and more dignified birds at the Minnesota State Fair, such as the rooster I posted on Sunday, these cluttered, packed-full pages are always my favorites at the end of the Fair.
Pages like this tell me that I really was looking, quickly, as if my life depends on it; noticing things that I might otherwise have overlooked, noticing things that I need to pay closer attention to if I hope to render a portrait later.
Strange as it may seem, working at hyper speed is also a great way to calm down. I don't know if it's because your brain gives up trying to catch everything and simply goes with the flow of the line, or if the sheer audacity of the practice punches your internal critic square in the mouth, rendering him speechless for days. I do know that it's a great way to release tension.
So while the poultry barn is exploding in noise around me I can find that one silent spot of focus and really begin to see how this bird moves and articulates. I discover the pattern of his movement. And after a minute or two I also find that our energy merges into one calmer space we can both share—and that's a great time to get a more finished drawing.
If you haven't been to the Minnesota State Fair yet, remember you still have today and tomorrow (Labor Day). (Though the animals go home early on Monday so plan accordingly and sketch them in the morning.)
Go sketch some animals (and some people). Remember to breathe.