Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thoughts on Drawing - Maggie Xing

For me, drawing began as markers on the pages of an unfortunate picture book featuring Alice in so-called wonderland. A clandestine act of rebellion at the age of 3. It has been a large part of my life ever since, weaving in and out of almost everything, and pulling it all closer together. Intentionally or not, it has greatly shaped what I have done, how I think, and therefore who I am. 
Some of my most treasured memories are of crafting and drawing with my mother, and learning how to draw birds with mild anatomic accuracy from my grandfather. It was a conduit to my imagination and dreams, and perhaps the beginning of my fixation on aesthetic pleasure. Although the direction of that cause-and-effect relationship could be argued to go either way. 
In the age before the ubiquity of iPhones in the hands of middle and high school students, I turned to doodling in the margins of my notes for entertainment. My dream was to be a fashion designer and part-time painter, and a part of me still foolishly aspires to that end. Drawing led me to fulfill my service requirement for high school graduation at a local art camp for children, which led me to enjoy service as much as shelving books at the library invariably gave me splitting headaches. 
For me, drawing has largely been for the expression and rendering of beautiful things, for making the unreal and incredible slightly closer to reality. The problem was often being able to execute the wondrous image I would hold in my mind with my amateur technique. The figure on the paper would invariable fall short. I’ve always wondered, when observing a piece of art, how it compares to its intended form. Is it merely that my skills are lacking, or will there always be some element that is not exactly right?
Art has done wonders for me. It led me to volunteer in the hospital, delivering art kits to patients and teaching them how to knit. It opened the door to my internship in Charlotte. It introduced to me the joy of serving others, using something that I’ve always enjoyed. In the convoluted path of life, drawing led me to medical school, after which I can serve others through my other passion - science. 
Indeed, as I’ve returned to the basics of sketching with pencil on paper, I realize how helpful drawing is to understanding. After sketching a rib cage, I have a much better understanding of its structure than from observation alone. Drawing demands attention to the object, and bestows understanding in return. I strongly believe it has improved my spatial reasoning abilities, which came in very handy for chiral molecules in organic chemistry. 
All jokes aside, I am very glad that I’ve taken this class in my last semester at Duke. I’ve learned some new techniques and improved the accuracy of my drawings, but more importantly, I made drawing one of my priorities again. A friend once said that Duke (and perhaps life in general) has a tendency to suck away all of your passions, but only if you let it. 

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