I've been doing art for a while, but drawing was never really my emphasis. I feel more at home working in 3d or in materials that I can work up and create a surface like oil pastels, collages, and linocuts. I usually see drawing as a preliminary step that I take before I start painting or carving a linoleum cut. Keeping a sketchbook was also sort of odd, because drawing has always been a vehicle by which I plan other projects, but I quickly noticed that my sketchbook drawings were much simpler, less clean, and less detailed than others. I like collecting images when working with a project and doing study drawings, but actually drawing in a sketchbook, instead of writing notes and pasting in images, was completely new. In this class, for the first time, there was a strict emphasis on drawing by itself, and confining work to graphite pencils and charcoal pencils. I've never had that kind of focus on drawing before. I skipped straight out of order into 2d and 3d mediums in high school, and went straight for sculpture and printmaking at Duke. The fact that most of my art required drawing at some stage of the process,ensured I didn't get too out of practice at representation, but it was incredibly strange for me at first, to put together finished drawings that were graphite representations of a still life and no more. It was weird the first few classes, because I still felt like my work was unfinished, because I hadn't made my work into a painting or a print. I didn't have to piece images together, like my other art teacher made me do because of image copyright infringement, I didn't have to worry about mixing the right colors or gluing millions of tiny pieces of paper down. I didn't have to worry about putting enough nails to hold my art together so it could withstand the wind. This sort of drawing was much more relaxing than my usual stuff, because all I had to do was sit and look..
Funnily enough, even though I had much less to worry about, this did not mean that my drawings became neater or cleaner than my previous work since I had less to focus on. If anything, my drawings are more messy, more cartoony, with incredibly dark darks and expressive line work everywhere. Maybe it was because I wanted to make sure that the paper underneath my drawing, no longer had a presence. I wanted to fill it so that it not longer felt like a flat thin surface but was more like a sort of vantage point into a scene.
Thanks to this class, I have found that drawing isn't as boring as I would have previously thought.I love the impact of charcoal and of strong value and how it can make a flat piece of paper have depth and 3d quality that I love in other mediums. I've found that the images I draw with charcoal, my new favorite drawing medium are incredibly intense, often turning a regular scene into a more dramatic setting because the values are so strong. I realized that throughout the process, I am constantly stepping back from my drawing and squinting my eyes, to make sure that the values and the spaces remain distinct, even from far away, which maybe is the reason I push my darks so far. I'm often shocked when I compare the way my drawings look far away to how they look close up, because trees from a distance become sharp scribbles of value. I guess that I'm a bit of a lazy artist, so I often try to push how far I can simplify the shape of an object and its values, but still make sure that its recognizable. I have very little patience for detail, so I love drawing high lit scenes, landscapes, and portraits that have lots of shadow, because I can play around with value, and I can also be spared some of the monotonous details. I like taking normal scenes and pushing the values, so that even if a narrative is not present, there is an intensity added to even the most mundane images by simply pumping up the values. Kind of like seeing through a dream, where things aren't entirely realistic, but have such a strong impression on you that they're incredibly powerful.
Drawing is... interesting. I'm not sure if I will ever love it as much as collage or printmaking, but I really appreciate the way that focusing on drawing through this class, helped me learn more about my process and my style. My work is messy, sometimes overwhelmingly so, but it has an intensity about it, that I like and find interesting. Maybe I'm just biased :). At first, it was hard because my art looked so different from the rest of the class, but now I'm ok with it.
Just to illustrate what kind of messiness, I'm talking about. Here are some images :) This is from a few years ago, but I still like the colors and the mood of it.
Both of these below are from this semester both in charcoal.