Monday, December 3, 2018

Drawing at Duke by Kathleen Embury

Last spring when I was in the Drawing 101 class, we were asked to write a blog post about this same topic, about what drawing at Duke looked like for each of us.  I remember I wrote about how art gave me an outlet, exercising my right brain in ways I hadn't since before high school.  I talked about how much of an escape it was to have the class along with all my other STEM courses.  And Intermediate Drawing has not only reaffirmed my opinions from last year, but also broadened my perspective on who I am as an artist at Duke--indeed, in life--as well.
One thing that was slightly tedious for me from Drawing 101 were the limitations we had on the assignments:  We started with still life's, negative space drawings, had to use charcoal at some points, etc....and it wasn't until later in the course that we had more control over the topic of our pieces.  That's why I was so excited for this semester.  I came in with a solid idea of what I thought I knew a loved to draw.  I liked realistic art work, drawing animals, their expressions, in action.  I love drama, so I knew I wanted to work more with contrast, and maybe throw in a splash of color, too.  I also "knew" I didn't like drawing things that were meticulously detailed (unless it was part of an animal, of course), like brick, water, and skies.  However, this is, in fact, the opposite of the truth.  To be honest, I was just intimidated to even try because it seemed like too much work that I wouldn't enjoy, since I knew from experience I didn't like drawing still lifes.  I had a vague idea that I wanted to draw a landing eagle for my very first piece because back in middle school, I had started to, but then never finished.  Somehow, the idea of the eagle in a storm over a raging ocean kept popping into my brain, and no matter how much I thought I didn't want to get stuck into the details of things that weren't living, I decided to try it out.  And I got so into drawing all the dramatic crashing waves, sea foam, lightning, wicked was several hours before I even knew the time was passing.

Through the rest of the semester I decided to explore  drawing new things, particularly subjects with a lot of contrast an energy, like water.  Water is the coolest to draw because it can be bottomless and endlessly black, but also transparent and shimmering, something I explored in my first Independent Assignment.  And I tried new ways of setting up pieces rather than on just the sheet of paper, like dividing it into panels to tell a story. Coming into this class, I never would have thought it would have ended with me drawing the LIFE board game.  I think this class has helped me to see how important it is to stretch yourself creatively, particularly in the stressful academic environment that is Duke which, ironically, ended up being the topic of several of my pieces.  Whereas before I had focused on drawing animals in somewhat natural habitats, this class allowed me to say more with my art, to tell a story, make a commentary, and reflect on my life at Duke and beyond. 

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