I'm happy to announce that I'm teaching portrait drawing and painting as well as Artistic Anatomy at Multnomah Art Center in Portland. I've given a lot thought lately to gesture, which in my eyes is the lifeblood of drawing.
As I mention to students: you can have a beautifully drawn or painted figure but if the gesture is missing you're not telling an important part of the story!
Gesture isn't about detail but about striving to see how the parts relate to the whole, and how to convey the rhythms and balance of opposites that are so striking about the human figure. These rhythms, without much detail, allow us to recognize a neighbor in conversation from a block away Or by their walk on the way to getting the morning newspaper.
It takes practice to grasp gesture and one of the best ways to do this is gesture drawing! Fast intuitive drawing informs our slower more analytical styes of drawing in a very deep way. And builds confidence and a sure hand, as well as inspire us to catch the dynamic of the models' poses.
Two books I recommend highly are Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators by Mike Matessi and Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton. The latter also being an excellent anatomy book for artists.
Whether at the local coffeshop or in the figure studio making lots of fast intuitive drawings with a keen eye on seeing the gesture gets you there and is fun. I have pads full of gesture drawings, here are a few from the mix. Enjoy!