Duke is a funny place. This semester I, like most Duke students, was enrolled in four classes. I fully expected Drawing to be the easiest class I would take in my college career and that classes like my advanced PubPol class or Botany to be more challenging. I couldn't have been more wrong. Though I was a decent drawer in high school, I came into Drawing 101 at Duke so poorly qualified compared to everyone else. My remarkably inferior talent for drawing wasn't completely apparent the first few weeks of class because we didn't discuss each other's art until later in the course. When we started doing that, though, I started to dread coming to drawing. I knew that no matter how much time (often upwards of 6 or 7 hours) or effort I spent on that week's assignment, I knew that my drawings would be the worst in the class. By about 6 weeks in, I was really regretting my choice to take drawing.
It wasn't until the last assignment that this attitude shifted. Though it was still the worst in the class, I was really proud of the drawing I turned in for the fantasy narrative assignment. I drew the VDH Pavilion on West Campus surrounded by fairies and a pumpkin carriage. It was a play on "The Magic of Finals Season" because, let's be honest, we all need a little magic to get through finals in one piece. It was by far the best drawing I had ever done in my life, which is a huge relief since it took about 10 hours to complete. I came into class with a huge smile on my face because I just knew that this time Professor Fick would have nothing but complementary things to say about my drawing.
My smile faded a little once I saw everybody else's drawings. Everybody else had also pulled out the big guns for this final assignment. I was still proud of my drawing but I was expecting to be right up there with the best of the class for the first time and, instead, I was towards the bottom again. This was further reinforced when Professor Fick got to my drawing. Few compliments were paid, plenty of (constructive) criticism was given. I left class slightly bummed. However, after a mini pity party, it occurred to me how much I had improved by the end of the course. The whole time I had been comparing myself to some of the best drawers I had ever seen. Drawing is their thing. Many of them even said they were planning on majoring in art. Instead of basing my talent off of their's, I should've been focused on noticing my own improvement. In flipping through my drawings from the beginning of the semester, I could hardly hold back laughter. Instead of feeling down in the dumps about how I really have no future as an artist, I decided to celebrate the fact that I had learned so much and have been privileged enough to draw among several artists that will undoubtedly have extremely successful careers. All in all, I am so glad that I took drawing if for no other reason that I now know how I can approach classes that challenge me beyond what I'm comfortable with. So, on that note, thank you Professor Fick for helping me to become a better drawer as well as a better all-around student.