I came into this class hoping to build some practical skills in visual art – more for draftsmanship than creative work, since I may need some experience with scientific illustration for a job down the line. Although I did pick up some technical understanding of how to use line weights, values, etc., this class was most valuable to me because it made me practice something regularly for a semester.
I spent a lot of time on practice as a kid who was a pretty serious musician – which I then gave up completely to be a high-achieving student, just like most creative people at Duke. I’m about to graduate, and my education here has prepared me very well in certain skills – I think universities are very good at developing cleverness and capacity for hard work, but less so at developing the methodical, slow work ethic you need to really master something in the long term. Slowing down in drawing class, particularly through keeping a sketchbook, was an opportunity to practice practicing. It was surprising how strange it felt to get back into the habit of doing things for the sake of the process, rather than for a finished product.
I was completely disappointed in all my assignments, although I think I learned a lot about the technical aspects of drawing by noticing what irritated me about my own. On the other hand, I really enjoyed working in my sketchbook, and am very proud of some of my work there. I was worried in January that I would end up half-assing the sketchbook, putting in a couple of doodles a week to meet a quota, but instead ended up fighting the urge to spend too much time “perfecting” a drawing when I didn’t need to. I tried to work more loosely and to use mediums, like watercolor, that I’m not good with to break the habit of approaching everything like a graded assignment.