Great start even if you are feeling a little down about this after all the effort. That is understandable, but I know the frustration of being lost. Lets start with defining it clearly so we can discuss it.
Lets start with a quote from Kimon Nicolaides, author of, "The Natural Way to Draw"
"You should draw not what the thing looks like, not even what it is, but what it is doing... Gesture has no precise edges, no forms. The forms are in the act of changing. Gesture is movement in space."
I looked up Mattessi's works and for some videos and "Why force Gesture Drawing?: FORCE Friday 75" (https://youtu.be/NvPp5sUORUs)
Some quotes that I took away from this video.
"All FORCE drawings are Gestural"
"Draw with intention to capture the action, rhythms of the figure"
I observed a number of student gallery works and examples online, and watched a demonstration from the video about an exercise in making the figure in four lines. We will come back to this notion of rhythms. I have gathered my thoughts to try and help you today.
Definition of Gesture
"A motion of the limbs or body made to express or help express thought or to emphasize speech."
"The action of making such a motion or motions."
So when we talk about gesture drawing we are talking about the motion of the object. It's Not the subject. Do not be concerned with the subject at all.
It is not a contour drawing that is trying to find the edges. It goes through the middle, outside the edges and back. The fact that it represents a figure in the end is inconsequential.
Nicolaides says, "...you should rely on sensation rather than thought. Simply respond with your muscles to what the model is doing as you watch, and let your pencil record that response automatically, without deliberation. Loosen up. Relax. "
He goes on to say, "...you will have made hundreds of these scribble drawings. You will never exhibit one of them - they are considered purely an an exercise yet they will give you an understanding and power which will eventually find its way into all your work."
The power that this gives you is the ability to imagine motion without seeing it, or to capture it in the wild in your sketchbook or ipad like writing notes. If you hear someone clapping you can imagine the motion. Try not lifting up your pen, and dont worry about making them look good. These are about 15 second gesture warm ups I did. They are designed to help the student see the figure as a whole and not worry about detail.
Rhythm Abstraction is not exactly figure representational. Neither is gesture drawing as we have shown. But if you use Rhythmic Abstractions to create SHAPES that represent the human figure our mind will form that recognition.
These shapes can be pushed and pulled in order to design motion and proportions for the human figure representation that doesn't exist in real life. In other words, to characterize. It is to emphasize motion, and design proportions. But what it does best is shows how the body parts as a whole relate to each other.
Your above drawings are more contour drawings, still focusing on the edges of the drawing against the plain of the paper than anything else.
If you are trying to capture motion with gesture that's one thing. If you are using rhythm abstractions to enforce the motion of the contour edge of the designed figure shapes, that's another. And I think that this is where all of the confusion online comes from.
Many times I have seen fully constructed form (basic geometrical shapes) drawings of figures with the title of 'gestures'. And its just simply not true. These drawings have gone beyond capturing the motion and well into defining the contour and form of the figure.
When all you need is to design the shape of the figure through rhythm abstraction. This does capture a movement of sorts. It is also the first construction marks that Force makes I think. These types of marks make our eyes move and It captures indicated line that goes from one contour side of the figure to the other. This creates a form of thought in figure drawing that is much more abstract, and because it loses its representation of figure a little bit, becomes much easier to manipulate the design and proportions of the figure, to give them some more dynamism.
I think people when learning this have a hard time manipulating a theory of motion, and instead are still trying to force in the construction technique of drawing a figure into a new theory.
Here are Mattessi's set up stages, for example:
Here are some other ways people think like this.
Mattessi says that he is focusing on the contour of the figure, and pushing the outer shape just a bit more to emphasize movement, or possibly the future, and finding the rhythm through the figure as a whole.
The theory here is to convey motion using the contour and its relationship throughout the whole figure through rhythms. Not necessarily the gesture. When a model is posing they are balanced for a long period of time. When we draw someone in motion, it means that they are off balance, not standing, not static, but moving. So I think the force method pushes figure design and emphasize movement even if the pose is static, using the related rhythms of the contour, through the inner FORCE of the muscles.
I am currently doing some more reading on this and if I find anything I will add an update. I hope that helps you figure out what your goal is while gesturing or finding a method that helps you draw figures.
Have a good one.