This year I’ve been taking part in the 100 Days Project Scotland, a daily creative challenge that encourages participants to spend time everyday on a creative task, with the aim of improving, expanding, inspiring, or just making space for daily creativity.
I’ve been carving out time everyday to practice gesture drawing, which is a way of drawing the figure very quickly and intuitively, trying to capture the essence of the pose - the movement, the energy, the flow - without worrying about accuracy and anatomy. I love the rawness and immediacy of this style of drawing, and I love how when I’m drawing in this way I can completely switch off the analytical part of my brain and just try and capture the emotion of a pose. Gesture drawings are very fast, usually just 1-2 minutes, so there is no pressure to get it perfect, and no time to make corrections when things go wrong. I don’t find it easy (I don’t really believe in bad art, only bad intentions, but I have made too many unsuccessful drawings to bear thinking about!), but when it works there is a beautiful lightness and energy to the drawing which makes up for the many clunky ones!
I attended my first life drawing class at art college 20 years ago and I’ve returned to it again and again ever since. There is so much emotion and beauty contained in images of the human figure, it’s endlessly fascinating, and it’s a fun challenge to try and capture that very quickly with marks on paper.
I keep many of my drawings to hand, sticking them on my studio wall, and I reference them all the time when I’m designing and making jewellery. It’s not so much the subject that’s relevant, but the rawness and the emotion that’s contained within the drawing. I like to see rough lines, expressive shapes, and I love how some poses remind me of narratives, of stories and myths, or of favourite paintings and sculptures.
Some poses can be quite abstract and the process of drawing is often cathartic - I can switch off my overthinking brain and just let the pencil wander across the paper finding the shapes and lines.
Making time everyday is hard! I’m almost half way through the challenge now, and it’s definitely not easy. Some days I really don’t feel like it, some days the drawing just doesn’t come easy and it feels like a constant struggle. Some days I’m too busy, some days I’m too tired, some days I just get on and do it. And some days I absolutely love it - a glass of wine, some music, the kids happily pottering and chatting in the background, and I can enter that state of flow which is so magical when you’re immersed in a creative activity.
I’m sharing my daily drawings on my dedicated Instagram page @sarahruthstanford.art, it's been a fun journey so far, I'm looking forward to seeing what the second half of the project brings.