Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Over the course of this semester I have truly learned how much work art is. I took this class because I love doodling and working with paper. Although doodling does not take much structure - it can really take any form you want. I feel like this was my biggest challenge this semester, learning the different drawing techniques. By doing the assignments every week, I gained a skill which contribute to my ability as an artist.  Whether we used charcoal, pencil, or the smudge stick, all are necessary to producing our works for class. I had never worked with any other material other than pen - so this class was an experiment. It’s been such a wonderful experience learning the different techniques that go behind drawing. 

Thoughts on Drawing Sam Woog

Drawing to me is a lot of things: challenging, painstaking, enjoyable, rewarding, frustrating, invigorating, time-consuming, physically taxing, and more. I used to draw more as a child and teen, as my grandmother is a local artist and we would draw and watercolor paint together all the time when I was younger. It was a hobby that I couldn’t sustain throughout high school or the beginning of college, so when I had the chance to take this course, I was really excited to rekindle the love I had had for drawing many years ago.

What I initially found during this process was that I really just liked to draw things that I knew how to draw and that I was good at drawing. Sure, it might’ve been a little repetitive, but drawing the same things well over and over was a helpful self-esteem reinforcement, and it wasn’t until this semester that I was really forced to try anything else. Although I was open to anything, it was still a psychological hurdle in the beginning to even put pencil to paper. I remember just staring at our still-life objects and being so intensely overwhelmed by every bad possibility and wrong outcome of the situation. Before I had even put anything down, I would find myself inescapably concerned about the final product, and the potential judgments that I and others would make about it. My mindset change began when I decided (or, more accurately, just had to) pick a place to start and work from there. It took me a long time to trust that what I was drawing didn’t have to be permanent, and that our pride shouldn’t obligate us to settle for whatever we drew in the beginning if we end up not liking it. I still struggle with this more in terms of using charcoal and other more permanent/less removable media, but I'm happy to say that now, when I pick up the charcoal, I'm excited to utilize its suggestive and messy nature to my advantage. I started the class obsessed with dimensional perfection- I wanted every proportion to be perfect and every line to be unwaveringly straight. It would drive me insane because I was putting so much pressure on every single stroke, because I felt if I got one thing off, it wouldn’t be possible to proceed successfully or accurately because every line is relative to the lines around it- by that logic, everything has to be perfect or else the whole thing is a bust. It was frustrating when I saw that something was off, but couldn’t identify it or didn’t have the time to change it because I’d already done so much. I used to see every mistake as a total net loss and a failure, and resolve to just trying again next time, but now I see the value in trial and error. It all is a cumulative contribution to my drawing skills, which are always a work in progress. It’s been a good exercise in forfeiting control and perfectionism, and valuing whatever contributions I can make to the art world, even if they’re not perfect. I’ve made some things that I really like in this class, and I’ve made things that I don’t care for as much, but I experienced the important realization that I didn’t have to like everything that I drew, and that it everything is still a valid attempt regardless. I’ve also learned that we all may have varying inherent levels of ability with anything, but practice is what allows us to develop these gifts.
This class has been an educational opportunity unlike any I've had thus far at Duke. It was the  perfect way to express my creative license while navigating some of my personal obstacles as well. I'm so glad I took this course and look forward to a future that continues to be full of art. 

Thoughts on Drawing - Sabrina Tucker

Although it's been well over ten years since I last took a formal art class at school, I decided to follow in the footsteps of many seniors before me and take a drawing/art course while my schedule allowed me. Despite the long gap between my academic art experiences, I had been casually painting with watercolors throughout high school and college but formal drawing turned out to be much more different from painting than I had anticipated.

While the thickness and blurred nature of watercolors can easily hide any mistakes or misshapen subjects, drawing but not sketching with pencils seems to only highlight your errors; this ended up being a double-ended sword, however, because the act of fixing your mistakes so frequently actually improves your skill, I believe. Though experimenting with charcoal was fun and a wholly novel experience for me, I wasn't able to get a hold on how to cleanly execute lines and shapes with it without making a mess of the page or using sketchy lines and shading. However, the fact that I now own charcoal pencils and have the instruction to utilize them now means I'll most likely try them again soon when I'm feeling a bit more patient and brave.

While the time required to finish the drawings increased exponentially over time (especially after our graduation from only line drawings), the accomplishment I felt after completing each assignment also grew with it. There were times when I would take a step back to look at the drawing I was working on after hours of sketching hunched over my desk and be in amazement that I could draw something that decent while there were definitely times when I felt the opposite.

If anyone asked for course recommendations for semesters when they wanted to test their creative capabilities, I think this course and many others in the ARTS/VIS department would be right up their alley.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Thoughts on Drawing - Maya Patel


I have always really enjoyed arts and crafts and drawing/doodling for fun. Growing up, I did art summer camps and in middle and high school took a few different art classes. I really fell in love with printmaking through two different classes I took in high school, and I was SO excited to enroll in printmaking this semester at Duke. I’m a senior, and I finally had extra room in my schedule to take a fun elective; I had honestly been eyeing the printmaking course every semester during book bagging, but was just waiting for senior year to hopefully take it. To my initial disappointment, the printmaking class conflicted with one of my required engineering courses. I was mostly devastated by the fact that the required engineering course wouldn’t even be meeting during the allotted time, but I still had to be officially enrolled anyways. 

All this being said, I ended up going with Drawing instead, and I’m very pleased that I did. Although I really missed having the element of color in my art, I learned a lot. A lot of the drawings that I make in my free time are ‘salvaged’ by the vibrant use of color— color is hands down my favorite component to artwork and its probably the reason I like printmaking so much. I really believe that any simple drawing can be brought to life with a unique use of color.  But, this drawing class really taught me how to focus on what I was actually drawing since I didn’t have the crutch of just adding in some wild colors. One of the biggest things for me was adjusting to drawing large scale on the 18”x24” paper. I had also never used charcoal before, so it was a great introduction to a new medium. I had also never paid nearly as much attention to the details in what I was drawing before this class. Having to really analyze the texture, shadows, tones, and shapes of the objects I drew was exceptionally challenging for me. Through this process I think I also learned how important it is to invest time into drawing. It’s not a quick and simple process to draw realistically. 

I learned a lot more than I thought I would, and I’m really glad I took drawing this semester. As a senior, it was really nice to be able to spend time on assignments that required such a different way of thinking than my usual courses do. Though it was a lot of work, the class was fun and Professor Fick is great. Overall, it was really exciting to spend such a large portion of my last time at Duke drawing every week! 

Thoughts on Drawing - William Yang

Before taking this course, my experience with drawing was very limited. In fact, I could probably count the number of times I’ve attempted to draw something over the past few years on my fingers. However, learning to draw and being more engaged with art is something I’ve been wanting to get involved with in my free time for years. As a student majoring in Computer Science and Statistics, many of my classes over my Duke career have been highly technical. Coming into my last semester, though, I made to sure to open up a space in my schedule so I could take this course, and I’m very glad I did so.

This course forced me to finally start a habit of drawing often that I always procrastinated on before. As calming and enjoyable as drawing is, it does take some time to draw something, and it’s often hard to pause my other activities to make time for drawing. Furthermore, having little experience and little artistic talent, I was often discouraged from drawing simply because I thought I didn’t know how to draw. Once I started drawing for the class, though, I soon rediscovered the joy in learning a new skill and being creative. I really enjoyed exploring using different drawing techniques, from different shading techniques, to varying line weights and length, to using charcoal and erasers as additional tools to draw a variety of scenes and landscapes.

As my college career draws to a close, I’m glad that I was able to take a fun class on something completely unrelated to my majors and the work I’ll be doing in the future. For me, drawing is a new hobby that I intend to take with me wherever I go. It’s stimulating, relaxing, and enjoyable, and I hope that I’ll be able to keep up the habit long after I graduate.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Thoughts on Drawing- Mo

To be quite honest, I don't remember the last time I have taken a formal drawing class in school. High school freshman year, I took an art elective, but it was more painting oriented than focused on drawing. Yet again, the first time I carried a sketchbook was through the middle of my senior year in high school and I didn't really begin to draw in it till maybe the summer after that year. I carried that sketchbook everywhere across campus and would sit on the bench and draw what I saw or what simply made me happy. But I knew one day that I would try to enroll in this class, because drawing was one of those therapeutic activities that made me calm and was a great break from all the stressful work that Duke can provide at times.

So I tried- for two semester to enroll and finally I got into this course. All I can say is that this class has renewed my love for drawing. It has challenged me to become more creative with my pieces, to be observant of the positioning of my study objects, the my perspective and depth, and to focus on the making my line straight. I learned amazing techniques and discovered my tool preferences (pencil, not charcoal and small blending stick, not big blending stick) as I have crafted what is "my style" of drawing. When I look at the drawings I have produced for this course, all I can think is that there is something amount them that indicates they're mine. Maybe its the meticulous detail I had put into my line work or the shading that I do in one direction (I like my shading that way). I also love how I had to opportunity to create pieces that are meaningful to me and are representative of my various life experiences. 

Again to be quite honest, and I tell my roommate this- drawing, for me, is an amazing out-of-body experience. I find it amazing how I can imagine what I want, and sketch it down on a paper. Then look at the completed piece and ask myself "Did I really just draw that?" 

Thoughts on drawing: Allie Charlton

            Having never drawn before (besides the occasional doodle in my notes) this class was a very interesting experience. I loved the constant pull from my creative side yet I also dreaded to engage with it sometimes. I discovered that setting aside a Sunday afternoon or Thursday morning to drink coffee and draw was the very medicine which often calmed my soul. I loved listening to a podcast or music while also giving 100% of my mental energy into my drawings. While constant drawing brought me some comfort, it also was fairly exhausting to draw when I did not feel inspired to. I found that some of my drawings in my portfolio were more completed out of necessity and convenience rather than creative inspiration.

            This class has taught me the importance of always drawing even when at a creative block but also being ok with taking a break when I need it. I want to continue looking for things to inspire me in my daily life so I do not feel compelled to draw things that do not speak to me.
            After this class, I plan to continue with my sketchbook in order to compile my many inspirations throughout my day. I think I will move to a smaller notepad, however, because the one I was using was too bulky to carry with me constantly. Additionally, I would like to form a routine of drawing in the mornings while I wake up. This could be a very soothing habit to get into.

Thoughts on Drawing - Ashley Manigo

Like many of my classmates, I started drawing at a young age. As far back as I can remember I was always doodling, painting or making things with clay. This passion continued as I grew older; I went to a performing arts high school where I took studio art classes for 3 of my four years there. I remember different representatives from art institutions like Full Sail and SCAD coming to show us different degree programs and career options in the arts. Initially, I was blown away and loved the idea of being able to do something so enjoyable for a career. However, I was pushed away from my dreams by the opinions of others regarding the stability of an artistic career. While in high school I achieved well in my science and math classes and decided to pursue a STEM career, more specifically medicine.

Upon arriving at Duke, there seemed to be something missing in my college career. I just didn't feel fulfilled, until I took a course titled Visual Cultures of Medicine. It made me more aware of the intersections between art and science while reminding me of my passion. This motivated me to delve fully into the arts and is how I ended up taking this course.

This course has reminded me of the joy I get out of actually making art rather than simply studying it. This course is a wonderful introduction to the more advanced classes, such as intermediate drawing and painting. The environment and method of instruction is quite constructive. Having Maira Kalman visit our class was also an amazing experience. It's comforting to see other artists showcase their work and to see their success. Overall I had a wonderful time in this class and would recommend it to anyone interested in exercising their creativity 

Thoughts on Drawing-Kathleen Embury

I remember when I was signing up for classes last semester, and I had to choose a 4th class.  Because I'm premed and majoring in BME, all of my semesters have pretty much been planned out for me with engineering pre-reqs and major requirements.  This was the first semester I had to make a decision, the first semester I had a choice.  One of my friends on the same path as me decided to go for Biochem to check that box, and I came so close to doing the same;  several of my other friends were taking it this semester as well, and I, of course, liked the idea of having that support system.  I remember the weekend before registration, I had all of my classes book bagged--Biochem included--and I realized that I was dreading the upcoming semester.  This wasn't how school was supposed to be, just a chore, but that's what it had become the past year taking all engineering and science pre-reqs.  Where was the excitement, the drive to know that I used to have in high school?  It had been beaten out of me by the  endless all-day STEM that I never seemed to have enough time to handle, especially this past fall.  Suddenly, I was determined that this semester would be different.

Throughout college (and high school, for that matter), chorale had been my outlet, a chance to forget about the academic and social pressures that came with my course of study.  Because of this, I was immediately drawn to the idea of taking a class in the arts.  I used to draw all the time, taking art classes since before I can remember up until high school when I had to quit due to the workload.  Over time throughout high school, I slowly stopped drawing, even for fun, as classes got more intense.  So on a whim, remembering how much I used to love art, I decided to take Drawing instead of Biochem.  This was perhaps one of the best decision I have made since coming to Duke. Throughout this class, I have rediscovered what I had forgotten I enjoyed so much about drawing.  You have to be totally focused on the subject and portraying it accurately in 2D, which makes you forget about everything else in the world besides paper, object, pencil, lines.  There is something so calming about getting lost in a drawing.  The rush of joy and satisfaction when the picture starts to come out looking like the real thing is indescribable.

This class gave me the chance to remember this, as well as learn some new techniques I had never heard of before to hone in my skills.  I was always told I was good at drawing when I was younger, but sometimes struggled with parts of my drawings looking washed out, or just a little off.  The seemingly too simple methods we learned to help, like using a straight edge, marking angles, sizing objects based on a single reference, using darker lines, etc.  actually made all the difference.  I have grown more in this class than I ever did before, and I actually felt how my skills were progressing as depicting angles and lines more realistically became so much easier.

As this semester went on, I noticed that I was a lot less stressed out than before, and I was actually enjoying all of my classes.  I was excited to go to lectures and learn for the first time in I can't remember how long.  I'm not necessarily saying this all had to do with art, but I think it played a big role.  Art always gave me a chance to clear my head and think about the world differently from the analytical sense I was so used to for the rest of my academics.  Even when the semester got more intense, art was always a respite where I had 2.5 hours to just sit calmly and draw and center myself.

One thing I worried about taking drawing was that I would lose my love for art because it would become a chore, but the opposite has happened. Though I would sometimes feel pressure to get enough sketches or assignment drawings done, once I started working on them the stress disappeared.    Because I was required to do art, I drew far more than I ever would have otherwise, and I have grown to love it even more.  I found over the semester that after doing art, I could think more clearly, unclouded by the stress and pressure I was so used to that came along with the heavy STEM workloads of my other classes.  Some might say I made and am making a mistake by taking Drawing rather than fulfilling another premed requirement.  But I would say art is just as important for maintaining balance, and mental and emotional well-being.  This Drawing class has given me the chance to rediscover a passion I have not had the chance to explore since childhood.  And isn't that what college is supposed to be all about?

Thoughts on Drawing- Angel Mcharo

Once upon a time, long ago when Ruwa (Godmother) dwelled on earth, there was a little boy who lived alone in the forest. The little boy had a very beautiful bird named Tausi. Tausi had the sweetest voice on earth.The little boy loved Tausi more than he loved himself. He would often tell his friends Zebra and cheetah that the name "Tausi" means bird of peace.

Unfortunately, the little boy's peace was taken away from him by an ugly monster who lived in a cave far far away. He came shrouded in the dark night and stole Tausi from her cage. The little boy was distraught. He sought the help of his friends. Zebra gave him his stripes to use as scaling rope to the monster's cave. Cheetah gave him five spots from his back, to use as stepping stones whenever he needed to cross a river.  He traveled for many days and nights but the monster's cave was far away. Every time he lost direction, the little boy would sit down and place his ear to the ground. He would then hear Tausi's song whispered to him and he would follow the songs direction.  No one knows if he ever reached the cave but as long as he could hear Tausi's song, he had a direction and the strength to keep following.

I told this folktale narrated to me by my grandmother because it represents really well what I think of drawing. I remember my very first watercolor set with six colors, then my first set of twelve colored pencils, then my first set of Disney princesses coloring books. Drawing has pretty much been a constant thing in my life. An activity I revert to when I need to feel calm and grounded.
This class has been different in a good way. Though lacking the colourful playfulness of all my childhood sketchbooks, it compensates well with the versatility of graphite and charcoal. Even though I have progressed slowly during the course, every time I open my sketchbook to draw after a long day feels like pressing my ear to the ground. When I put my pencil down, refreshed, I feel like I have been whispered to that sweet song which keeps me going. After such an intense semester, I am glad I stumbled upon this refreshing class.

Thoughts on Drawing - Hannah Homma Tong

On the Pursuit of Perfection


Throughout my childhood and adolescence, my artwork was only ever exhibited by the paints and inks that covered my hands. Although art was something that I greatly enjoyed, I was painfully aware that I had neither the skill nor the time to perfect my craft to the point at which I would be happy to share my work. 

Growing up in extremely competitive environments has always reinforced in me the ridiculous notion that I should only dedicate my time to things that I excelled at, and as a result I spent less and less time creating art. The irony was that in order to excel, I needed to dedicate time and energy cultivating skill and style. One of my main takeaways from this class was learning to do and enjoy things I wasn't particularly good at and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to develop with my artwork. 

I am excited to take more art classes at Duke and I am looking forward to being better at being bad at things. 



Thoughts on Drawing -- Sammi Siegel

For as long as I can remember, I have loved practicing art. My parents have kept over 18 years-worth of paintings, doodles, sculptures, collages, and so much more.  But in college, I found myself having less and less time for my hobbies -- and unfortunately, art was one of the first activities to go.  I can only remember a few days over the past four years during which I carved out the time to sit in the gardens, or the Perkins cafĂ©, or anywhere on campus to just draw.  So this semester, I was really excited to take drawing as a class, and to have a consistent reason and motivation to practice art.

Drawing during our class period was really relaxing for me, and I enjoyed learning technical artistic skills again.  But because I’ve been doing art so casually for the past few years, I wasn’t used to working on such large paper. I tend to doodle (too much) in class, so most of my drawings have only been large enough to fill the margins of my notebooks.  Adapting my drawing style in order to fill up a larger space was an unexpected challenge, but I know it has helped me grow as an artist.

Similarly, I really love drawing objects with a lot of little detail -- so the initial still life assignments were some of the most fun for me.  I would frequently include objects like shoes, purses, and animal sculptures in my drawings because they allowed me to work with smaller details in the foreground.  For this reason, I also found the landscape drawings to be surprisingly difficult. I have much less experience drawings things in the background of an image -- trees and shrubbery were a particularly frustrating challenge at first.  But through the course assignments, I learned how to integrate items with more precise details into larger landscapes (such as the owl in my fiction drawing).  In addition, I found it increasingly helpful to initially practice drawing elements of the landscape in my sketchbook. This is definitely a practice I hope to continue when I draw after college.

Taking this class, and forcing myself to draw every week, helped me realized how much I missed art.  So, I’m planning on making drawing a priority during my free time after I graduate (in just a few weeks!) -- whether it be doodles in my sketchbook, or larger landscapes in my new city.  I’m hoping to continue taking art classes, perhaps expanding into painting or ceramics. Thank you for an amazing class, and for providing me with a creative outlet for the entire semester!



Thoughts On Drawing

I've drawn a lot and loved drawing since I can first remember. In retrospect, I realize that this might have to do with the fact that I grew up as an only child with busy, working parents. I inevitably had to come up with ways to entertain myself, and I drew a lot in the basement which lay a very good foundation for my drawing skills. In elementary school, I was labelled the girl who was good at drawing before anything else, and this went on in middle school and high school (although the label of being one thing became less prominent). In high school, I even created a Facebook page where I could share my art with hundreds of other people--mostly friends and family.

During my first semester of Duke, I realized that I had barely done any drawing since fall of senior year in high school. I had been busy with college apps, and then I took a break from doing real work during the summer. First semester of college also hit hard. During winter break back at home, I began making small comic panels in pen for the first time I would work on these panels for hours, and it all began when my close friend who suffered from depression encouraged me to make a comic collaboration with her. She wasn't an artist kind of person when we were in school together, but she picked up the habit of making incredibly angsty, existential comics in lieu of more dangerous habits.

I realized how much I missed drawing, and how I would not just block out time for it if I wasn't forced to draw, so I decided to sign up for a drawing class. I did this as my 5th class, which wasn't very smart since I also chose a very rigorous schedule, and it kind of backfired. While I'm glad I've been able to practice my still-life skills, taking drawing also made me realize how much I don't like drawing buildings, landscapes, and objects so much as people. It also did not help that I fell behind a lot because I caught the flu, or the additional fact that the content we drew did not interest me as much. I also struggled a lot with figuring out myself this first year and in a number of my classes, so drawing became more of a task then what I had wanted to be -- a relaxing creative outlet. On top of that, I continued making comics to relieve my own stress, but the time I poured into the comics I could not translate to my 40 drawing sketchbook since I keep those in a more private diary form.  I do wish there was more space to draw things we were interested in during class, and that we did not have to always do a study drawing and a final because this would always feel extremely redundant and I would have liked to been able to simply pour all of my energy into one piece,

That is not to say to say that I have not enjoyed the class. I made two friends and it is also wonderful to get to explore the art community at Duke which is at first a bit harder to find. I also liked getting to work with charcoal, and I absolutely loved Maira Kalman's probing visit when we did the creative exercise of remembering our childhood and drawing "the first place we could remember." I'm glad I got to produce more works, and the class definitely pushed and improved my observation skills!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Thoughts on Drawing

I have always loved drawing. As a child, I always remember spending my time with my coloring book. Wherever I would go, I would take my coloring book with me. During school, drawing was my one cure for boredom. Ranging from doodles to caricatures of my teachers, drawing was one of the best ways to spend my time. 

After coming to Duke, I struggled to find time to draw, or do any art at all, but this class forced me to draw and find time in my day to sit down and simply become absorbed in the activity. Although the assignments were not something I would chose to draw, or would typically draw, it still made me practice drawing, which always gives me a sense of calmness. I particularly liked the sketchbook, which gave us full freedom to do whatever we wanted. I am mostly interested in illustration and less realistic ways of drawing, so the sketchbook was a good break from working from observation and let me really become creative. 

One of the highlights of this class was the visit by Maira Kalman, who illustrated the cover of The New Yorker for the March 23rdmagazine. Her way of talking about her work as well as her approach to drawing really inspired me and gave me ideas for what I could do in the future. Overall, I enjoyed the class, was able to practice my drawing skills and ultimately made me feel more fulfilled with my experience at Duke. 

Thoughts on Drawing - Nina Hatami



Upon coming to Duke, I felt sad that I never had the time to draw, and until this semester, I could not take Drawing as a course that fit into my schedule. I was excited to finally be able to take this Drawing course, especially because I thought it would be good practice in working with my hands before dental school, which requires a great degree of manual dexterity. Quickly, I realized that this class was much more challenging and time-consuming than I had anticipated. However, I enjoyed having the drawing assignment as a weekly requirement, because it enabled me to take time to sit in my room and get in the zone. Although I would get frustrated thinking about all of the other things I had to do for my other classes, all in all, I am thankful that I could sit and just draw.

Last semester, I took a class on mindfulness and meditation, and we learned that meditative experiences can be gained through a multitude of different ways—including drawing. I remembered the feelings of being in the zone that I would get when drawing in high school, and I was excited to fully appreciate the feeling again, especially after learning about its meditative effects. Sometimes I would feel annoyed by the number of hours I would invest in sitting on my dorm room floor and drawing, but by the end of the day, I would realize that my mind was no longer busy with rushing thoughts.

I was also thankful for this course in allowing me to exercise a creativity that was personal to me and that I had not really explored before. I have always been extremely connected to my Persian background, but in college, I feel that I have grown to appreciate this aspect of my identity even more. I greatly enjoyed incorporating my Persian culture into my assignments and felt quite surprised and proud of the ideas that I would come up with. Especially in my final assignments, I sought to incorporate this aspect of cultural identity whenever I could, and I felt quite satisfied in having all of my ideas develop on Bristol board. I felt that I learned so much about myself in the process of developing my ideas and seeing them come to life on paper.

Nina Hatami