Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thoughts on Drawing - Wenshun Liu

I was always "scared" of the idea of drawing. The only drawings I did were the "non-sense" sketches in kindergarten and elementary school (lol!). When I grew up I frequently had the idea of taking some classes and learning some kinds of drawing, but my friends who can draw scared me away. Their drawings were so crazy, so complicated, and I was always like "Ohhhhhh.. that's too much I can't do that!"

I went to study abroad in Berlin this summer and was enrolled in a course called Art and Architecture. I would never enrol in that class if the professor would email us before (instead of after) enrolment that we would need to sketch during the class. That freaked me out, partially because I can't draw (and I wanted good grade haha), and partially because I was worried about the people in that class who could.  The very first class was a mini drawing practice. The professor, instead of talking about practical skills, told us one tip of drawing: we need to get rid of the stereotypes and simply draw what we saw. For example, he said, when you think of the sun you probably will think of a red circle, as when you were a kid that was the kind of practice you were given to symbolise stuff. But that is a very dangerous idea, because sun doesn't necessarily look like that. When you draw it is very important to get rid of those ideas and drawing exactly what you saw. That was mind-blowing to me indeed! Then he handed out the first practice - some tree brunches - and I was like "okay.. I guess I will just draw exactly what I saw?"So I picked a spot as a starting point and focused on the outline, even though sometimes it looks weird, and never thought about what tree brunches are supposed to be like or what kinds of art styles I was supposed to be have. When the time ran out I looked at my drawing and it actually made sense! We continued with more mini practices and I think that day was my moment of enlightenment - For a time I thought drawing was about "techniques", and I can't draw because I don't have the "technique" of shading/drawing figures/ drawing landscapes. But actually, drawing is not that crazy/scary because I need simply to draw what I saw=).

It turned out that was the only drawing lesson the professor gave us. He then handed us sketchbooks and asked us to draw whatever we wanted. And I went aggressive because I had no idea if something would be hard/easy to draw at all. The first object I drew was a random opened packet of chips in my room because it looked cool, and it took me the whole night to sketch that. I had no idea of shading, so I just darked the places where I found was dark on the packet. The result of course looked good but more importantly, I was not scared of that drawing the whole time, even when I was having trouble. I mean, how hard it would be to draw what you see?=)

I didn't get any actual skills or serious drawings out of that class yet I carried that mind set to our drawing class (which I think should be more important). As a result I was still nervous about our drawing class at the beginning and our class indeed is full of concepts I'm not familiar with, yet each time I got relieved when telling myself that I would simply draw what I saw. (I think the only time I was concerned was the subtractive drawing, as I can't really just draw what's there. That's why I went to the Monday class for extra practice haha.) I love the in-class practices also because it's so cool to see myself from completely confused of the concept to having something that makes sense on the sheet. I think I'm good at finding where the problems of my practices were because I was always comparing it with the actual setting (like "why the shading of that chair on the left of that corner looked different!" haha). I think that's also the reason why I tend to go to the extreme - I didn't really know (or care) if something is complicated and each time when I needed to speed up I was always like "ahhh but there's also something going on at that tiny little spot! And that tiny little spot! I need to finish those cuz I saw them!" But I really enjoyed the process (and wouldn't mind the time consumption) and learnt so much from it. I'm also proud of myself because now I have actual proof that I can actually draw! =)

I think to be actually good there are more I need to do because drawing is not only about what you see. I can't really do abstract drawings or intensively using charcoals as then I can't get the details out and that freaks me out lol. So probably "draw what you see" would become the new stereotype I need to get rid of, but nevertheless I'm very grateful that I'm in both drawing classes as they closed the gap between me and drawing=).

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