When I was a kid, I enjoyed doodling on my scratch paper while I was supposed to be working on my math homework. Most times, I only drew stick figures and people with weird proportions, wishing however, that I could draw real people, or anything that was realistic and detail-oriented. That is why I decided on taking this drawing course at Duke, and so far, it has been one of the best courses I have ever taken.
After a single semester of learning, we have learned how to use pencil, charcoal, eraser, and even hand and tissue techniques to draw. We have also learned how to draw contours, shadows, and space using all the techniques of negative drawing and contrasts. Throughout the year, I would draw on my sketchbook as a way to express myself, and also as a way to relieve the pressures from studying. Drawing is a healthy way to relax, and it made weekends productive, a time that I would have otherwise squandered away.
Besides learned the various techniques, another invaluable lesson that I gained through this course is the lesson: going through experiences, trails, and redrawings truly improves my technique and makes me a better artist. In the past, I attributed the drawing skills of others to their ‘talent’ in drawing. Though this is true to some extent, I have now realized that it is the continuous practice and effort that leads to satisfactory artwork. An example is my experience with charcoal. I had never learned how to sketch in an official art class before, and charcoal was an unfamiliar tool for me. The first time that I tried to draw trees with charcoal, I used several pages on my sketch book in figuring out how to use the different edges of a charcoal bar to obtain the correct shadings on the tree. After smearing charcoal all over my hands and clothes after the first trail, I was disappointed as I saw that the tree was nothing more than a dark mess when compared to my pencil-shaded one work. Changing strategy, I then tried drawing branches with charcoal pencil, which looked much better. Now I love drawing the Duke Chapel with charcoal pencil on my landscape drawings. It is not only gained technique, but also gained confidence in my ability to do a charcoal drawing. After extensive practice in class this semester, I believe that most of us students have a better control of charcoal.
Another invaluable lesson that I learned is the art of patience. Sitting in front of the drawing board for six hours is not an easy task in itself. Furthermore, moving back and forth to see the whole work, erasing and adding a few strokes, and using your finger as a drawing tool is a tiring task with slow results. With the music playing in the background, drawing five or more hours continuously has become one of my Friday routines, yet also one that I look forward to. It is true that we have to pay effort to be able to draw like we have, but the satisfaction that I gain as I finish in the middle of the night is an incredible joy. The fulfillment from finishing a drawing that took patience and careful effort is much greater than how I feel when I finish a mediocre project in haste.
Drawing is simultaneously a great challenge for me, and yet also such a gratifying way of expressing myself. I am fortunate that I was able to learn in this course, coupled with taking in on a beautiful, scenic campus at Duke. Thanks you Professor Fick for this awesome semester!