The first time I took a drawing class was when I was 4 years old. I have to admit, it was not a very enjoyable experience. Though this was more than 15 years ago, I still remember certain details very clearly. Once in class, we had to draw a bowl of apples, oranges, and grapes. For some reason, even though the grapes were purple, I chose to make them black in my drawing. The teacher pointed this out as an example of what not to do. That was my first and only experience in a drawing class before coming to Duke.
During freshman fall course registration, I noticed that Drawing was offered under the ArtsVis department. I considered taking it, but given my previous track record with drawing classes, I wasn't sure I wanted a repeat experience. However, they say college is the time and place to try new things (or, in this case, old things you really disliked in the past), and I eventually decided to challenge myself and try my hand at it again. During spring registration later that year, I really considered taking Drawing, but could not fit it into my schedule for the life of me. The same thing happened sophomore fall. Finally, sophomore spring registration rolled around, and the 10:05 Wednesday class fit perfectly. I have to admit that I was slightly apprehensive about the course, not knowing what to expect, but praying I wouldn't have to draw grapes again.
I think the part that surprised me the most about this class was the freedom of experimentation we were allowed. Of course, there were general guidelines to follow and certain techniques to observe, but this class allowed us to pick what we wanted to draw. That immediately made the entire concept of drawing much more interesting and appealing to me. In addition, because we were given such a great deal of liberty, I gained a better sense of what I really liked to draw and started to develop my own drawing style. I realized that I much prefer structural objects with definitive lines to subjects in nature with difficult-to-observe details. I'll take the Chapel or Baldwin over a bush or a rock any day. At the same time, many of my drawings take on a rather dream-like quality, whether by technique or by subject, and are inherently somewhat abstract. I know it probably sounds contradictory since I tend to gravitate towards architecture or other man-made subjects, but the concept of dreams, dream-catchers, angels, and the like are really interesting to me and I really appreciate being able to explore different styles and subjects to discover what I actually like to draw. To do so required a great deal of time, but I found that I really didn't mind spending hours on sketching or shading. It was actually a great release from the stress of other work; I was able to work at my own pace and just have fun and be creative.
In all honesty, I really enjoyed the class. I loved how we were taught certain skills and techniques, but were free to experiment and apply these techniques to drawings that we were interested in and actually wanted to draw. It gave us an opportunity to really explore and think about our surroundings--and Duke--outside of Chem labs and Econ midterms.
Most importantly, I did not have to draw a single grape this entire semester.