My first proper exposure to art began when I was 13 and embarked on a language exchange program to France. Over a month-long trip, we were brought to 6 different museums with tour guides explaining the meaning behind every painting and artwork in rapid French. Neither the little-understood French introductions nor any artworks actually left a deep impression at that time, though later on when studying art history for an academic decathlon in middle school, several of the pictures we studied would look vaguely familiar. The amount of detail and accuracy within such masterpieces had seemed incredible to me, as if they were drawn by magic and not by hand. For that reason they always seemed so far away.
Despite growing up immersed in math and sciences, art somehow always found a way into my life. When traveling, it became a habit to visit museums - the Getty center in LA, the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the Picasso museum in Barcelona, MoMA and Guggenheim in New York and many many more. Even though I could never comprehend how such masterpieces were produced, or critique a painting the way an art history major or art critic could, it was a pleasure and privilege to be able to just marvel at the pieces and imagine the artists' hand over these timeless works. My favorites were always the museums dedicated to a single artist, where you could see study sketches and works from when the artists were young. I felt like the audience is brought closer to the person behind the drawings, rather than the glamor and fame of the artwork.
This also encouraged me to finally pick up my pencils and start making some doodles. My first drawings were of my favorite cute cartoon character. I always liked drawings with a fantasy or imaginative aspect to them, like illustrations and fantasy drawings that being me to another realm. Some drawings I did many years ago:
I never found the courage to draw landscapes or sketch real life objects before this class however, since I deemed myself too unskilled to draw more impressive or realistic themes. It was thus a great experience in this class to be given the push to draw landscapes along with the necessary guidance and advice. Drawing also brought my mind some peace over the span of a hectic semester full of computer science projects and statistics problem sets. It was daunting sometimes to be drawing landscapes, something that I've never done or had training for before, but it was immensely satisfying to be able to complete the assignments. Although this class has ended with the semester, I believe that I would continue drawing for leisure in future.
Over the course of the semester, I felt my confidence as an amateur increase and I dared venture further with charcoal, a medium that I had never explored before this. Above all, it helped to have a very patient professor who would provide constructive feedback while still being incredibly understanding and encouraging. It meant a lot that I never had to see these assignments as a deadline like every other class at Duke, but rather an enjoyable opportunity to expand our skills and imagination. My heartfelt thanks to Prof. Fick for all his teachings and for making this class a wonderful one =)