Saturday, December 3, 2011

My History with Drawing

I’ve been drawing and painting since I was very little. In middle- and high school, I took classes in water color painting. For a year in high school, I learned oil painting, but my instructor was so mean and eccentric that I did not enjoy the experience. I also took AP Art History because I didn’t actually know anything about famous art movements and works of art. I loved the class. This last summer I took a family trip to Europe and saw many amazing works of art that I learned about in that class. Some of these included Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise” on the Florence Baptistry, Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus, and Michelangelo’s “Pietà.” It was especially awe-inspiring to have been so close to the “Gates of Paradise.”

Gates of Paradise - Ghiberti

Birth of Venus - Botticelli

Pieta - Michelangelo

A huge flaw of mine is that if I’m not taking a class, I don’t have the motivation to draw or paint, even though I love doing it. I didn’t do any art at all last year and really missed it, which is why I decided to take this class. It’s been so fun, and I’m glad I made this decision. I also had little experience with the imaginative aspects of drawing, and this class has helped me embrace it more. It’s a shame that there are not many ArtsVis classes offered at Duke and that my schedule is so full. I don’t know whether I will be able to take another art class here, but I’ll definitely do what I can to make it work.

Before I took Visual Arts 100, I had previously drawn as a way to improve technical skill and sketch outlines for paintings. The only time I did any shading was back in 6th grade when my art teacher asked me to draw still-lifes. I drew a wooden block, a ball, and a bottle of glue. Shading these objects took forever, since I couldn’t let any stray marks show and the values needed to be even. That experience made me think that drawing was just a skill to be learned if I wanted to draw well, not a fun pastime in and of itself.

I had never used charcoal before (I didn’t even know they came in pencil form) so I was really hesitant to do so. It smudged and could not be completely erased, so I was a bit scared that I would mess up a drawing if I used it. But I couldn’t make my pencil drawings dark enough; I noticed how washed-out they seemed when I saw them from a distance in class. So for my last drawing I used charcoal and loved how easy it was to increase the value, cover large areas evenly, and create texture. I wish I used charcoal in more of my drawings, and I’m definitely going to draw with charcoal more often now.

Now that I have all the necessary supplies, my goal is to actually draw in my free time. This class has been a reminder of how much I love art. I shouldn’t need a class or deadlines to motivate me to do it!


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