Before this semester, drawing was a foreign concept to me. Yes, I had doodled when I was bored in class and dabbled in stick figure drawing, but I had never spent a significant amount of time sketching any type of object or scenery. My first day of drawing class was terrifying and overwhelming; as I looked at previous students’ work, I wondered how in the world I would ever fill up an entire page of Bristol board that size.
As we began to practice in class and for assignments, drawing became a fun challenge. While drawing requires creativity, as I expected, I also learned there is a science to making a drawing realistic. In order to perfect this science, one must measure the scale of items in relation to each other and place them correctly on the page. A scientific artist also must sketch what they actually see and not what they perceive or think they should be seeing. Learning to look at my subjects in this manner has been my greatest challenge throughout this class.
While drawing scenery was very difficult, I really enjoyed getting to know Duke’s beautiful campus while looking for new places to draw. In the future, I want to continue to work on shading and subtractive drawing techniques. Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote, "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Subtractive drawing techniques interest me because of their unique approach to design; I think I got a late start in the class with these skills due to my lack of experience and only recently started to feel comfortable fully integrating them in my assignments.
My biggest surprise in this course was how much time drawing takes. I have found there to be a great deal of truth in Camille Pisarro’s words: “It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.” Every week I wished I had more time to spend on my drawings. As my investment in my work grew, each piece became a personal expression of how I viewed things or places I liked. Although it never became easy, I tried to make sure they were represented in the best way possible.
For someone who’s always moving, learning to sit with my drawing pad for six hours at a time has been no easy task. Drawing has taught me to be patient and focus on the task at hand, to appreciate the stillness and peace in creativity. As I have grown more comfortable with my work, I have grown to enjoy drawing as a stress-relieving experience and to engage in the creative process.
Drawing still does not come easily to me; in some ways, sitting down with my drawing board is still as difficult as it was the first week of class. But as the weeks have passed, I have come to enjoy the challenge of filling a blank Bristol board with my own thoughts. As my portfolio has filled, I have looked back with pride on how much I have learned about drawing—and about myself. As we end this semester, I am excited to see where my future with drawing goes. Thanks for a great semester Prof Fick!