Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thoughts on Drawing - Varun Gudapati

I started drawing sophomore year just for fun. I would take a photograph and try to draw it as realistically and true to the picture as possible. While I enjoyed making these drawings and looking at the finished product, I always wondered if there was a practical purpose to them because a photograph captured the same material with more detail. My mom has drawn her whole life as a hobby and recently went to art school and started working in design. Back at home, I looked through some of her sketches and drawings and noticed that they were very natural. Rather than making sure that every line and shape was perfectly made, she just approximated everything yet the final result would come through effectively. More importantly, these sketches and drawings had a purpose. They were a means of putting ideas on paper in a matter that drawing could do better than any other medium. I wanted to take this class not just to develop my fundamental drawing techniques but also to learn from the ground up with a different perspective.

Right off the bat, this class had me drawing from real objects, which I had never done before. I was forced to make approximations and get used to the fact that I could just exactly measure and scale every line I drew. This was the first step in changing my perception of drawing.

One of my favorite moments this semester happened as I was sitting in front of the law school, doing my empirical perspective drawing. After finishing up the sketch of the building, I started taking some photographs with my phone to use for shading later. I immediately noticed that the pictures on my phone had a noticeably different perspective from my drawing. No matter where I positioned the phone, the top and bottom of the buildings seemed to slope towards the center much more aggressively compared to what I was seeing in person. Though I was bugged at first, I quickly became excited that I had experienced a fundamental quality of drawing: it is a opportunity to capture things just as the eye sees them, which is something that many photographs cannot do. In many ways, my unshaded sketch was more true to what I saw than the fully-colored high-resolution picture on my phone. I finally found my "practical purpose."

Most importantly, this class finally gave me the ability to draw "naturally." It took me until the last assignment, but I was able to put the ruler away and make many rough and approximated objects that came together cohesively as I had seen in my mom's drawings and some of the demo drawings from class. When I was drawing the trees, I used very rough scribbles for the leaves, which is something I would never have tried earlier on in the class. Standing back, these scribbles took form and made better representations of leaves than any of my previous more deliberate attempts to draw them. Likewise, when shading, I ditched the obsession of trying to blend things into a super smooth, uniform color (which I was usually unable to do anyways) and instead made rough lines and strokes that followed the contours of the object. Again, when looking at the whole picture, this shading had the effect that I wanted. Beyond any drawing techniques, to me this assignment had meaning in its content. I was using a collection of images to create a fictional narrative. I was turning my imagination into something concrete.

This class has transformed my perspective of drawing in ways that I had never expected. I learned the better techniques that I hoped to learn and improved on fundamentals, but also, I finally discovered a way to put purpose into my drawings. In this sense, I am leaving with tangible improvements to how drawing a part of my life in both a creative and functional sense.

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