Monday, December 3, 2012

Janvi's Thoughts on Drawing

I can easily say drawing was my first passion. Armed with a box of crayons, I spent my pre-school and elementary school days filling coloring books and sketchbooks. I can even remember distinct times when I learned something that improved my drawing: when my 1st grade teacher taught me to shade all in the same direction, when I first drew a 5-point star, when my best friend showed me how much more realistic drawing people looked if you just remembered to draw in their necks. Now that I think back on it, all these mini-lessons were just learning new techniques or learning how to "see" better - lessons that I felt I expanded on greatly over the course of this semester.

As I grew up, my informal doodling and drawing was replaced with a newfound love of painting and mixed media projects. Although I pursued art outside of school during high school, I felt that I lost that creative outlet when I got to college. I also wanted to gain a more fundamental understanding of the techniques underlying drawing and artistic practice in general. I feel that through this course, I was able to do just that - I never knew the power of the eraser, or how to use your pencil to get accurate drawings. Most of all, I was glad to have deadlines to my artwork, which forced me to complete drawings, whereas on my own I would probably start something and never be motivated to finish. Now, at the end of the semester, I am astonished by how much I have accomplished.

After all this, what does drawing mean to me now? Personally, although the connection may not be salient, I love thinking about how drawing pertains to my academic interests. As a neuroscience major, while I struggled drawing perspectives and shading realistically, I thought about how our visual perception might cause us to make these mistakes. Though we might believe we see everything for how it truly is, in actuality our perceptual system only processes what we pay attention to, and makes simplifying assumptions in order to provide us with relevant information. That's why, when I look at objects far away and try to draw them without using my pencil to actually measure it, I tend to draw things that are further away larger than they "actually" are from my perspective, because I know how big they should be if I were standing right next to them. We make this assumption because it's useful to be able to identify an object far away as a chair big enough for us to sit in, for example, not a tiny mini-chair (which is what it actually looks like from a distance). Professor Fick told us that art is about "turning off your brain" and focusing on what you see. This really resonated with me as I worked on my drawings this semester and tried to overcome my brain's processes to draw something realistically.

Although this course was much more challenging than I had expected, I appreciated the opportunity for creative expression and to develop my skills as an artist. Thank you, Professor Fick!

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