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.