Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thoughts on Drawing-- Krysia Sikora

From a young age I had always loved drawing and expressing myself in creative ways.  In high school I took both ceramics and studio art where I first was introduced to specific artistic techniques.  And when I entered into college I had told myself that I wanted to continue learning and enhancing my artistic abilities, but both my studies and athletic career got in the way.  It wasn't until four years later, during my last semester of college that I finally fulfilled my promise to myself to take an art course at Duke.

Coming into this course I was extremely excited.  Art (especially drawing) had always been something that I loved, but it was that I was not able to partake in as much as I had liked in the past four years.  I came in with high expectations for myself, as in high school I remembered being a fairly good artist.  Yet if there is one thing that I learned from this course it is that (similar to soccer) it is practice and time that makes perfect.  And drawing is no exception to that rule.

I am going to be completely honest, but I was rudely awakened by (not my lack of skill) but my lack of practice in the arts.  I had come into the course expecting to pick up where I left off in high school, even though I had not persistently practiced drawing in four years.

Overall I think this course definitely opened my eyes to the different techniques that can be used to enhance my drawing.  I had never used charcoal before, and in various drawings I experimented with using it along side regular pencil.  Additionally in the past I primarily done line drawing so when we started implementing shading and value to drawing, it felt very new to me and is something that I didn't completely feel comfortable with.  In the future I hope to continue working with shading and value, because when I did successfully do it, I think it completely enhanced my work.

I look forward to continuing my artistic learning in the future!

Thoughts on Drawing - Jessica Zhang

Taking this drawing class this semester was a fun experience, especially since it is my senior year. The last time I drew so extensively was back in high school when I took art classes, and this class was an interesting flashback to some of the techniques I used back then which included predominantly pencil drawings and still life. While still life is not one of my favorite methods to draw, it is definitely satisfying to replicate a scene on paper with an eye to the small details. It is also nicely meditative in small doses.

Moving on from still life, what I enjoyed the most about drawing was the ability to take different objects in life and insert them into a scene, with no concern of whether or not they would be there in the first place. This was the concentration of the latter part of the semester and it was great because I really got the opportunity to use the techniques learned while still being creative.

That being said, the process can also be frustrating. I do not have the concentration and patience necessary to work on art extensively. I tend to focus a lot on smaller details and the need for variations in "color" and depth. I say "color" here because while all our drawings were in greyscale, I wanted to strive to show that the objects were of different colors and this color changed depending on the distance from the viewer and the lighting. This of course was a struggle and resulted in a decent amount of frustration in which I oscillated between "this is not dark enough" and "this is not light enough", and frequently "why do all these objects look like they have the same color". Definitely a good learning experience, but most of my drawings would end up taking longer than I expected and even when done, the more I would look at them, the more I would see things I could nitpick and change. This brings drawing from a relaxing meditative and creative experience to more of a "I have to fix this formatting in Word because the alignments are off."

I do intend to continue drawing as a hobby, but I don't think I will work on many more rendered pieces. Sketches tend to be more fun and stress-relieving, and I will probably stick to those. (The semester-long sketchbook was great!) 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thoughts on Drawing - Varun Gudapati

I started drawing sophomore year just for fun. I would take a photograph and try to draw it as realistically and true to the picture as possible. While I enjoyed making these drawings and looking at the finished product, I always wondered if there was a practical purpose to them because a photograph captured the same material with more detail. My mom has drawn her whole life as a hobby and recently went to art school and started working in design. Back at home, I looked through some of her sketches and drawings and noticed that they were very natural. Rather than making sure that every line and shape was perfectly made, she just approximated everything yet the final result would come through effectively. More importantly, these sketches and drawings had a purpose. They were a means of putting ideas on paper in a matter that drawing could do better than any other medium. I wanted to take this class not just to develop my fundamental drawing techniques but also to learn from the ground up with a different perspective.

Right off the bat, this class had me drawing from real objects, which I had never done before. I was forced to make approximations and get used to the fact that I could just exactly measure and scale every line I drew. This was the first step in changing my perception of drawing.

One of my favorite moments this semester happened as I was sitting in front of the law school, doing my empirical perspective drawing. After finishing up the sketch of the building, I started taking some photographs with my phone to use for shading later. I immediately noticed that the pictures on my phone had a noticeably different perspective from my drawing. No matter where I positioned the phone, the top and bottom of the buildings seemed to slope towards the center much more aggressively compared to what I was seeing in person. Though I was bugged at first, I quickly became excited that I had experienced a fundamental quality of drawing: it is a opportunity to capture things just as the eye sees them, which is something that many photographs cannot do. In many ways, my unshaded sketch was more true to what I saw than the fully-colored high-resolution picture on my phone. I finally found my "practical purpose."

Most importantly, this class finally gave me the ability to draw "naturally." It took me until the last assignment, but I was able to put the ruler away and make many rough and approximated objects that came together cohesively as I had seen in my mom's drawings and some of the demo drawings from class. When I was drawing the trees, I used very rough scribbles for the leaves, which is something I would never have tried earlier on in the class. Standing back, these scribbles took form and made better representations of leaves than any of my previous more deliberate attempts to draw them. Likewise, when shading, I ditched the obsession of trying to blend things into a super smooth, uniform color (which I was usually unable to do anyways) and instead made rough lines and strokes that followed the contours of the object. Again, when looking at the whole picture, this shading had the effect that I wanted. Beyond any drawing techniques, to me this assignment had meaning in its content. I was using a collection of images to create a fictional narrative. I was turning my imagination into something concrete.

This class has transformed my perspective of drawing in ways that I had never expected. I learned the better techniques that I hoped to learn and improved on fundamentals, but also, I finally discovered a way to put purpose into my drawings. In this sense, I am leaving with tangible improvements to how drawing a part of my life in both a creative and functional sense.

Thoughts on Drawing - Eric Jiang

As a computer science major, I find the overlap between computer vision and drawing fascinating. I've learned that drawing is not just a physical process but also a mental process, which is perhaps more vital. In order to achieve believability in a drawing, the drawing must also elicit immediate recognition. That is to say that it must contain enough clues and information that our brain can immediately recognize the represented object. These clues include value changes, texture, shapes, and patterns.

Similarly, computer algorithms that interpret images look for "features" in order to generate a certainty or confidence in the identification of a subject. These features can include patterns, edges, and points. If anything, taking a computer vision class before this drawing class allowed me to approach drawing with

On a less technical note, I've learned the incredibly meditative nature of drawing. It's forced me to observe the interplay of light on various surfaces, topologies, materials, and volumes. I was surprised by how easy it is to express myself through drawing. Subtle manipulations of light, shade, and texture allow me to express vastly different atmospheres and moods.

Thoughts on Drawing--Elizabeth Anne Brown

Drawing is of course a means of self-expression, but for me, drawing serves moreso as an intimate way to interact with the world around me than a means of externalizing my internal joy/turmoil/existential crises. Drawing forces me to slow down and truly look at my subject in a way that I don't seem to make time for outside of the context of art. Like many of my colleagues, it appears, I used to spend a lot of my free time sketching hands, my friends' faces, etc until the academic demands on my time made it all too easy to put drawing on the back burner. "Legislating morality" for myself by taking this class--making myself accountable for a return to drawing--has been so cathartic for me. I had forgotten how rewarding I found the process of making art, and honestly it was pretty difficult to get back into the rhythm again--I find that drawing is the exact opposite of binge watching Netflix (with Netflix, you enjoy it viscerally in the moment and are a little frustrated with yourself afterwards). This is the first formal training I've had since I was around 11 and it was fascinating for me to learn I have such a light touch, which I only realized when I saw my assignments hanging on the wall next to my classmates'. It's pretty antithetical to who I am as a person (I'm the archetypal type A kid) and was surprised to see I'm pretty timid with my markmaking. Despite a conscious and concerted effort on my part throughout the semester, I've only been able to ameliorate that specific element of my drawing little. Though I should definitely still keep my day job, I feel I've improved in leaps and bounds this semester, particularly with landscapes, which I'd never worked with before at all and hope to pursue in the future. I wish Professor Fick could chase me around for the rest of my life and demand study drawings and final drawings on that floppy board so I'd be accountable to someone other than myself when it comes to drawing, but I guess I'll just have to ride the momentum I have going now into the sunset!!

Thoughts on drawing - Akhil Ghanta

I enrolled in drawing without knowing what to expect. Initially, I was overwhelmed by my perfectionism, requiring that each line be perfectly straight and the proportions of my drawings be exact. As a result, my drawings ended feeling rigid and cold, lacking the realistic "feel" that I would see in professional drawings. This left me frustrated and wondering what it was that my drawings needed. Even so, I kept at it, and I noticed a steady development of my skills. Instead of outright rejecting the imperfections in my drawings, I began to embrace them and conform the image to meld with them. I stopped wasting thought at the straightness of a line and instead used the fuzzy edges my hand carved out to give my drawings emotion. Although it took me until the last drawing, I finally was able to bring out my drawing style. But of course, this is only the beginning. Now that I've found my footholds, I can really begin exploring the world of drawing. I stepped into this class apprehensive towards drawing, but I'm leaving more motivated than ever to continue expanding my drawing skills.

Thoughts on Drawing -- Melody Jiang

Not exaggerating -- in a way, this class is a dream-come-true for me. In primary school, Japanese anime sparked my interest in drawing. I started by doodling characters I liked, but when I tried to pursue a more formal training, my parents banned me from doing so. Since I was too passionate about drawing, they feared a formal training would derail me from my school work. In many Chinese parents' eyes, art is not something their children should pursue. I started out sketching all the time, but gradually I lost the habit. I am very grateful that this drawing class gives me a chance to reignite the activity I most enjoyed and to avoid pressure from my family.

I like drawing because it provides a way to pull out a picture from my mind and share it with others. However, sometimes I find myself impatient about my speed of drawing on paper. I will find drawing much more enjoyable if it is aided by a computer.

Nevertheless, by drawing using pencil and paper, I learned ways of expression that I would never learn by drawing on a computer. When drawing, I have a tendency to be too detailed. On a computer, it is easy to be detailed. However, when using an actual pencil, I had to find ways to reduce my workload by making certain parts of my drawing more abstract. I find this lesson very important. As Pierre Schneider points out in Louvre Dialogues "One impression already prevails, which the rest of our tour will confirm. Zao Wou-ki’s criterion is spontaneity. He is drawn toward what erupts and pours forth with the unexpectedness and rightness of a spring. The rest is “tiring” despite the talent." Being too detailed might easily fall prey of being "tiring". I don't want to make matter worse by adding "tiring" to my lack of talent.

In addition, I find it interesting that I draw better when I trust my feeling, not measurement. I find it just "feels" right when a line is put into the right place. However, if I measure the object, my drawing usually end up deformed. It is possible that when I feel I am able to pay more attention to how the lines of the object come together as a whole.