Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Eliza Strong's Thoughts on Drawing

I started drawing at a very young age.  It was and is an extraordinary outlet for stress and creativity, and exercises a part of my brain seldom used in painfully copious amounts of problem sets and textbook readings (science majors beware- organs unused may atrophy). In the same way that reading can transport one to another world, another life, drawing can pull the artist into deeper recesses of his own mind, wherein abide landscapes, faces and strange objects yet unrealized in the natural world--only waiting to be released with a pencil's stroke.

Art can do what the written word cannot. It can immediately, without any effort but a glance, show you something that isn't there, perhaps not nearby, perhaps not even extant. It has the power to transmit the imagination of the artist directly to that of the viewer. What is more, the viewer sees it with all of his or her various life experiences and history, projecting this onto the work of art (perhaps even thinking, "They must have known just what I felt when x happened," even if the artist had his own entirely different experience in mind; for a moment, the viewer felt related to).  Works of art have this amazing power to connect people through space and time, reminding us of shared human experiences or helping us to understand ones totally foreign to us. 

I will never create masterpieces at which onlookers will marvel a few hundred years down the road (I'm looking at you, Van Eyck, Raphael, Titian--what's your secret?). Being an artist is simply not my calling in life, but I love drawing all the same.  I will never draw a perfectly formed human figure, or a face with an expression evoking pathos and emotion.  But I can try to express the world through my eyes, or put what's in my brain on paper, and frankly, that's enough for me. The value in art is and always has been for the creator himself.  Artists do not do their work for others; they do it for themselves, because they have a unique way of expressing the world according to them, and want to put it out there for others to see.  It is a brave profession, surely full of many obstacles, but it is one without which the human race would not be what it is.  Humans can envision and transcribe imagined things far beyond the ability of any other known animal, allowing us to have goals, empathy for the experiences of others, an appreciate for beauty.  

I am extremely grateful tor the opportunity to rekindle my interest in and love for art. It has been a fantastic release for me in a semester more filled with stress than I could have imagined. Coming to class or doing the homework forces me to sit down and just draw, not thinking about organic chemistry reactions nor enzymes nor verb conjugations.  For a few hours, my mind is free, only focusing on putting what I see onto paper.  After hours of careful labor, a piece of artwork-tangible, finished- is in my hands. No such satisfaction is possible in nearly any academic endeavor, nor so dramatically hinged upon amount of time spent doing the work.  I can study organic chemistry for twelve hours straight in the library and still not do any better on an exam, but if I spend twelve hours drawing, my work will come out better than if I had spent only one.  This is a passion I hope will follow and serve me throughout the rest of my lifetime, whether I (unimaginably) become the next Mary Cassatt, or if I stick to doodling on napkins at coffeeshops, avoiding doing "real" work, or simply stand and stare in admiration at the work of someone who followed their dreams and won. 

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