I had never drawn a landscape before this semester. To do so never once crossed my mind. As someone who almost always sees the world around me through the slight blur of stubbornness caused by refusing to wear my glasses, the sharp details of distant leaves matter infinitely less than the countless shades of yellow that appear when the sun strikes them at a thousand different angles. Why would anyone bother to draw a sky? Gray can never tell you whether there were hints of rose on the horizon, or how an orange sun burned through smoky purple clouds. My biomedical instrumentation professor informed us that the human eye can see ten million colors and exactly fifty shades of gray. Yes, we all sniggered. But the point is that there is so much that simply cannot be done with pencil or charcoal, and that frustrates me to no end. Don't misunderstand me, I love drawing. I feel far more comfortable with a pencil in hand than a brush, because the former is the skill I have more thoroughly developed, and I can be a bit of a control freak. And there are some images that strike me as perfect for a bold, monochromatic image. Yet I have never once seen a landscape and thought to myself, "I can capture the true beauty of that in a drawing." After being forced to try three times now this semester, my opinion is unchanged.
I am however, glad for being compelled to attempt it. I'm not satisfied with how those attempts came out, but that's just par for the course for a perfectionist like me. But it took being threatened with a grade to remind me how much I love drawing - how relaxing and enjoyable it is (when it's not being frustrating and incorrigibly time consuming, naturally). I certainly haven't decided to change my life plans and become an artist, but I was inspired to take the coupon we were given on the first day of class and venture off to find Happy Mess Art, I was motivated to get that set of watercolors in addition to restocking me charcoal supply, and I was spurred to set my long forgotten brushes to paper to satisfy the hunger for color that week after week of producing nothing but gray created in me. I really do miss color in this class.
However, this class has done more than make me resent being limited to two media. I honestly wasn't expecting my drawing skills to improve much this semester. I don't mean that in an arrogant, "my drawing has no room for improvement because it's already perfect" way. I just didn't think that an art class without much one on one instruction would be much more than a stress release. Firstly, this class was more often a stress creator, but I digress. The point is that I do feel as though my drawing skills themselves have improved, as Professor Fick said, just by practicing, and for that I am grateful. I suppose my main thought on drawing at Duke, is that I should keep doing it, and that I'm going to keep doing it, and I think that's a pretty great thought to have.