Thoughts on Drawing
As a Visual and Media Studies major, and former IB Art student, I found it embarrassing to say I couldn’t draw, which is why I signed up for the introduction to drawing course at Duke. Whenever I needed to present sketches of my art projects to my teacher in high school, he was always hesitant about the piece, because the drawings never did justice to the end product created in clay. When I worked in the fashion industry the last two summers, I could always explain to the tailor what to make, and show him or her images, but whenever I presented a sketch, it made no sense. That was when I realized for me, drawing is an essential life skill, and something I had to force myself to learn as much as it scared me. When I first came to the class at Duke, I didn’t think it would challenge me as much as it did. I found doing homework for my graduate art history seminar less intimidating than my drawing assignments for this class. I found that even when I spent a considerable amount of time on these assignments that I was never happy with the end result. However, I realized that the more you practice and allow yourself to make mistakes with drawings, there more you will learn. That is something essential this class has taught me, and something I will continue to apply to when I draw. I definitely found that although this class was challenging, it pushed me to learn in a positive direction, and taught me a few essential skills I can attempt to apply to the next time I am required to draw for something else.
One significant theme that repeated when Professor Fick gave me feed back was to use my eyes and rely on my eyes rather than what my brain imagined the image to be. I always thought that was more and more difficult to do, until I compared it to a phonetic language, where you read exactly what you see. As I continued to work in the class, I tried more and more to draw exactly what I saw and shut my brain off, and the less of a conscious effort I made to focus on the image, the more naturally I was able to draw it. What I found most useful for me in this class was the sketchbook, because in most of my sketchbook drawings I focused on a single image, rather than an entire space or location. I found understanding spaces in two dimensions difficult to interpret in comparison to understanding a single object, which is why I found the second part of the course more challenging than the first. I think specifically for me, this makes sense because I have only previously worked in three dimensions with clay, or in film, which again allows me to explore three-dimensional spaces before having to use a camera to convert that into a flat image.
Throughout the course we were encouraged to use both pencil and charcoal. Although as a beginner, pencil was probably better for me to use with the increased flexibility to erase and change things around, I enjoyed using charcoal a lot more. I found that the drawings I did in my sketchbook with charcoal, or the object drawings I did with charcoal gave me a lot more flexibility to add value to the drawing, whereas shading with pencil was very difficult. Working with these two materials made me wonder what it would be like to work in pastel and color pencil as well as other two dimensional materials such as paints. I wonder how different working with these other two dimensional materials is in comparison to working in clay, which is what I’m most used to doing.
Ultimately, this drawing class has been a great learning experience to understand the basics of drawing, and what it takes to be able to draw well. I have learned important concepts such as attempting to draw exactly as you see things, rather than creating things in my brain when I’m trying to show something realistic. Another thing I realized and think is true that is that when there is pressure to learn a skill like drawing that takes a lot of practice in fourteen weeks, there is only so much one can accomplish. I hope to continue practicing drawing with less time pressure after college, and spend more time on putting into practice the concepts we learned in this class.