Studying Gesture—Kimon Nicolaides

I'm working from a variety of drawing resources to "hack" my learning—to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.

Now that I've settled on developing my gesture drawing skills as the foundation of my abilities, I want to know as much about it and the best way to approach it.

I'm pulling from 9 sources of gesture drawing lessons and I wanted to devote a full post to each source.

The first source of gesture drawing instruction is from Kimon Nicolaides. I've had his book "The Natural Way to Draw" for many years and have tried about 3 times to follow his specific course of study. Due to time limitations and my own lack of discipline, I always gave up, but the lessons I learned were important and the exercises were often fun.

After contour drawing, the second lesson Nicolaides teaches is gesture. His method is that you're to feel the movement of the whole form in your whole body. You're to focus on the entire figure and should keep the whole thing going at once.

But I think this is the key to gesture drawing from the book: "Draw rapidly and continuously in a ceaseless line, from top to bottom, around and around, without taking your pencil off the paper. Let the pencil roam, reporting the gesture."

When I first started doing these studies, I removed my pencil from the paper to draw each part of the body separately. But once I read about keeping the pencil on the paper, I found that both the experience and the results improved.

So that's the Nicolaides scribble gesture method in more detail. "The Natural Way to Draw" has gotten mixed reviews. I like it's discipline and the way it breaks learning to draw into a curriculum that let's your newly-learned skills build upon each other. Even if you don't follow the curriculum as presented, I recommend trying some or all of the book's exercises in the time that you have.

Happy drawing!


  1. Awesome! I've been considering picking this book up, though I still need to get through Loomis first

    1. Hi, Richard! Although there's been some criticism of the Nicolaides book and the course of study is impossible to do unless you have all of the time in the world, I found his exercises to be helpful. I just adjusted them to my schedule. Like other instructors, he teaches how to see using blind contour and gesture drawing exercises. Some of the exercises are fun and some are tedious but you can just keep telling yourself that it's worth it as you get better.

      Take care!