Before college, art was never just something I did for myself. I took art classes in school all throughout middle school and high school, so having art homework on top of academic work was normal. Don’t get me wrong, I love art (and it was always my decision to take art classes), so drawing homework never had the same negative connotation as writing an essay or doing physics homework. And, though I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I was incredibly lucky to have been taught a large variety of artistic techniques at a young age. However, as much as I enjoyed my art classes, the majority of my art in high school was something I was doing because an authority figure was telling me to do it. After finishing my AP Studio Art portfolio senior year of high school, I was glad to get a break from structured art.
I thought that once I started college, I would become the kind of person who never wasn’t creating art, even if that just meant keeping a daily sketchbook. I thought that being forced to create art on a timed schedule was something that hurt my artistic voice rather than something that helped maintain it. But then college actually started, and I found myself creating less art then any other time in my life. Art was something I knew I was good at; I wanted to see what else I could do. So drawing and painting took a back seat to the self-exploration associated with freshman year. The workload of engineering schedules and the pressures of Duke’s social scene didn’t really leave much time for me to spend by myself creating art. And I guess I just got used to not drawing or painting on a regular basis.
By the end of first semester sophomore year, it felt wrong to show people images of my high school artwork. I’m not the same person I was when I made those works; they were from a different time of my life. But when friends asked to see my art, I had nothing more recent to show them besides some drawings in my sketchbook. So, I made the decision to take a drawing class. Initially I was nervous that I wouldn’t have enough time to keep up with my other classes while creating art that I could be proud of. But despite the amount of time I spent working on my drawings, I really enjoyed having structured art back in my life. It was good to have deadlines to force me to finish the pieces I started, and drawing provided a nice break from hours of science and engineering. This class wasn’t restrictive at all, giving me the opportunity to draw what I wanted and to explore a new medium (ballpoint pen). Duke made it really easy for me to get caught in a cycle of not creating art, but taking this class helped me break that cycle.