Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I am aware of how much more can be said about hands and gestures. I read somewhere that gestures are processed in the same areas of the brain as speech. This makes sense because the hands and mouth often work in conjunction with one another. Our words and their meaning are augmented by the things we do with our hands. These gestures are often movements we make unconsciously.

I just watched a video of a speech I gave in Mallorca a few years ago. I was talking about creativity and stone. It went well, but as I forwarded ahead on the video, it seemed to me my hand motions and body movements seemed like they could have been a bit distracting. I'm thinking a lot about this because I have to speak today at Ventura California- 'Creativity Part 2' and I wish there was a way I could sit on my hands while I am giving the presentation.

Having said that, I suppose it could be just as bad to talk standing absolutely motionless and maybe bore people to tears. People need something, some movement, to interact with, to involve the eyes as well as the mind. The gestures have to suit the subject matter and the substance of what is being conveyed.

Gesture drawings are sketches done quickly to capture the essence on paper of the subject matter . There are techniques to being able to do this well, but mostly it takes practice and a good eye.

And the hands? They do the drawing. They gesture, they speak, not just with movement but with pen or pencil. The hands help convey the image of something that hopefully captures the imagination or reminds us of something. A good gesture drawing can inspire us or give us a sense that the thing we are looking at, though not an exact representation, or incomplete ( perhaps still looking unfinished, or completely abstracted) non-the-less 'rings' and has some essence of truth or beauty about it.

Gesture drawings don't have to be drawings. I think of some wonderful garden features I have seen that accomplish a similar effect of creating a sense of place or feeling of peace. A well designed landscape or well designed garden can sometimes capture the imagination with the simplest of lines and the minimum of elements.

A dry stone wall is a simple line. It has a minimum of elements, just well placed stones. A short section of well built wall in a garden can be a gesture drawing of sorts. It can be the thing that draws you into a garden and reminds you of something you saw as a child, or saw in a book or on a holiday abroad. A charming stone wall, even an unfinished one, or one that is in ruins, can still look right, can still look fresh and alive.

A wall like this, made with human hands, can be a gesture drawing us into a place where the stones come alive and almost seem to speak to us.

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