I have grown up around art my entire life. With my dad’s profession being an artist, we have never had a bare wall in the house and always had every supply necessary to make our school art projects look professional. With a little help from my dad, I always turned in the best looking projects as a kid, and I always felt like art was a piece of cake.
However, later in my life, this all changed. During middle school (after I decided it was no longer appropriate to have my dad help me with projects), I noticed that my visual arts skills were no longer comparable to some of the other students in my class. But it was also during this time that I realized my creativity came more natural to me in other forms, such as musical instruments and dance. My interest in visual arts began to fade as my talent in performing arts flourished.
Whenever a family friend would ask me, “Can you draw like your dad?” I would always reply that my sister got all of my dad’s artistic genes and that I was keener on performing arts. But this wasn’t really the entire truth. Although I loved performing arts, I loved visual arts as well. I always have and still do. I have always wished that I could simply pick up a pencil or paintbrush and produce a masterpiece.
My sister never had any more help than I did on art projects, yet she continued to excel at drawing, painting, sculpting, and scrapbooking. When we reached high school, she was always making the best Student Council posters and class projects, and I was on the dance team and in the orchestra. My sophomore year, I tried my luck in a ceramics class, and although it was one of my favorite classes, I always ended up bringing home unsymmetrical plates or wobbly pots. Even to this day, when my friends see the stuff I made in ceramics, they think I took the class in middle school. But hey, I had the time of my life.
Even when I came to Duke, I knew I would end up taking art classes because, no matter what the end results would turn out to be, I knew I would have the most fun in them. It always seemed like my skills never really improved in the classes, but I would always have fun trying! Therefore, when I walked into drawing class on the first day, I felt like most of my time would be spent having fun and trying (with a stress on trying) to improve. I didn’t feel like I was ever going to have the ability to create an image that I would be able to say “Wow” to, but I knew that either way, I would leave at the end of the semester saying “Wow, I loved that class!”
Although I still feel like some people have a gift and are born with more artistic abilities than others, after taking this class I realized that in order to become better at anything, you need to have patience and you need to practice. I never thought about this much, since my dad could literally draw a realistic image in just a couple of minutes. But after taking this class, I know I really did improve. I would always be proud to show my dad and sister my work, and even they noticed how much better I had gotten throughout the semester. It seems crazy how far I have come… I remember when I almost had a panic attack when I first heard the word “shading.”
As I started to see myself improve, this made me want to put more time and effort into my drawings. I did not only catch myself saying, “Wow, I love this class!” but also saying, “Wow” when I completed an assignment every week. I feel like performing arts will always come more natural to me… but this class made me realize that I should ever give up on improving in visual arts as well.