When I was in high school, I took lots of different art classes and really enjoyed them. I thought for a while that art might be something that I would want to study further in college classes. When it came down to it, though, I ultimately decided that it would be more practical and ultimately more rewarding for me to study medicine, so I applied to colleges with good biology and pre-med programs and abandoned my dream of becoming an artist.
In the past year and half, there have been times when I’ve wondered whether I would be happier had I chosen to study art instead, allowing myself to use my creative talents rather than my analytical ones. After taking this class, the first art class I’ve taken at Duke, I feel more confident that I chose the right path when I elected to study biology instead of art. I loved taking this class; it was nice to have one class that wasn’t focused specifically on analysis and memorization. Having sketching assignments and projects to complete provided me with a nice distraction from the constant science-based curriculum in which I was engaged; however, ultimately, this class proved to be just that – a distraction. I thoroughly enjoyed the time that I spent in the drawing studio during class, but found myself dreading the out-of-class assignments, because I felt that they were taking away valuable time which I needed to be dedicating to the classes which would actually help me toward my major and the career that I want to pursue after I graduate.
Through this class, I’ve learned that (for me) drawing is best kept as a hobby. This semester, I didn’t have the time or patience to dedicate the amount of work to my drawings that I wanted to be able to dedicate, for good reason. That being said, the two hours a week that I spent in the drawing studio were some of the best hours, because they provided me with an opportunity (and an excuse) to stop worrying about some of my more academic classes and just focus on doing something constructive that I genuinely enjoy.
Despite the difference between this class and the classes that I am used to taking, I did learn some useful and interesting things this semester, the most important of which was the subtractive drawing technique. Having never used charcoal before, I struggled with some of the earlier charcoal techniques that required more precision. Once an eraser was thrown into the mix and I was enabled to add and remove darkness and light from my picture, charcoal began to make more sense to me. This technique allowed me to be more free with my drawing than I usually am, because it requires a less rigid and geometric mindset. This approach can and should, I believe, be translated to the work that I do in other classes which are not necessarily creative but can still be benefitted by a creative approach.