Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Thoughts on Drawing-- Tanya Thomas

I’m so glad I was able to take this class and finish my last semester at Duke with something so personally rewarding. I used to love drawing as a kid, but as I got older, especially since starting Duke, it’s quite rare that I’ve done something simply because I’ve wanted to. I’ve dabbled in painting since starting college, and although I must admit that I love the explosion of color and texture one can quickly get with a paintbrush, there’s also something a lot more personal that the artist imparts on her art that I feel is especially present in drawing. Every pencil stroke is intentionally applied—there are no shortcuts in a drawing. From experiencing firsthand how much time it takes to complete assignments on the size of paper that we use for class, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for people who commit their studies and careers to the visual arts. It’s not just fun and beauty—it’s work, and sometimes capturing a lawn gets tedious after a drawing a few blades of grass, but you can’t quit halfway.

This class has changed the way I look at the world in my every day. I notice now, even when casually walking across campus, when a scene is compositionally appealing. Indirectly I’ve also gained an appreciation for photography, both in admiring the works of professional photographers, and also in applying foreground, midground, and background elements to my own personal photographs.

I also must say that I’m very grateful for this class for introducing charcoal to my life as a drawing tool. Even as I got a bit older in middle school and got into drawing portraits, I would always try my hardest to capture very dark values with my shading pencils, and it would never look quite right. The day Professor Fick had us use charcoal for the negative space drawing, it was like a whole new world had opened to me. It was pure fun to play around with the messiness, richness, and utter darkness that was captured when I started to smear the charcoal with my hands.  I have to admit that the negative space class exercise and assignments were my favorite of the class, because of the chance to really go all in with the charcoal, and also because of the way it made me change perspectives when looking at an object.  I’ve tried to maintain the use of charcoal in my drawings ever since. I’ve noticed that even light strokes of charcoal to capture shadows or dark objects have added an element of depth and gravity to my drawings that I never would have been able to obtain otherwise. It’s one of the many skills I’ve gained from this class that I plan to keep in my life after Duke. I’m grateful to this class for reintroducing to my life a hobby I thought I wouldn’t have the chance to work on again. I’m definitely keeping the habit of having a sketchbook wherever I go!

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