Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thoughts on Drawing

I have always loved art. Whether observing or creating, I have felt that art is an outlet for the creative that is under-appreciated by many. Though  I had never been particularly good at it, I always found myself doodling in the margins of my notes or sketching small personal masterpieces on the blank side of .papers. Luckily, in high school, I was given to opportunity to take Art 101, which was essentially learning about the color wheel, but our final project was a giant self portrait drawing that I worked incredibly hard on. I would come in after school and sit with the art teacher listening to the The Postal Service and draw. Although my portrait ended up looking nothing like me and being, overall, pretty atrocious. I realized that art was something that, even if I wasn't a prodigy, I truly enjoyed and I spend the next two years of my high school career attempting to take as many art classes as my parents would allow. I took a drawing class, a photography classes, a mixed media class, and my favorite class of all, painting. Painting surprised me. I assumed that if you are not good at drawing, you are going to be even worse at painting, but this turned out to be completely false. Painting allowed my setbacks in drawing to become advantages. I had never been one to color withing the lines, not metaphorically, but literally, my coloring books as a child were frightening and this habit seemed to carry with me into my later years. My drawings always seemed messy and sketchy. I couldn't focus on the tiny details and it frustrated me so much that some things could just never be fully erased. However, when it came to painting, I found that any mistake could be utilized. I had a freer hand and a much wider pallet. I fell in love with painting. Any chance I could, I would hurry back to the studio to work on my recent piece, to the point that my teacher would get frustrated because I was so far ahead of the other students. I bought paint supplies and canvases and starting painting pieces to give to my family as gifts. I truly loved it. But then that awful thing happened that requires so many young people to set aside their passions, I graduated and went to college.

In college, I felt that I had to take more "useful" classes and majors that would help me get a job and be successful in life. (The fact that I chose Philosophy and German as those majors still baffles my parents to this day.) I set aside my love of painting, art in general, and even piano to become a "serious college student". In the four years, I stopped using my painting supplies when I came home and focused more on spending time with my friends and doing homework. Then came second semester senior year. I chose to write a senior thesis, a choice I regretted for the entire year I was working on it, and needed classes that would be stress relievers and something that did not involve intense research and writing. I decided that Beginning Tennis, Drawing, and a graduate Metaphysics seminar would be those classes. When I came into this semester, I felt pretty confident that I would have a great last semester at Duke. My first day of Drawing I was very excited. I was curious to see the skill level of my classmates and to begin doing something I loved again. When my first day came, I learned 2 things: 1- I severely underestimated the work load of the class and 2- I must have a selective memory, because drawing was not painting, and I was not good at it, not hopeless, but not good. And throughout the semester, I'm pretty sure I got worse. My previous frustrations of messiness and imperfections simply got more defined when charcoal was added to the mix. I also realized that the lackadaisical pace that I work on my pieces in high school would not cut it. I did not have 15 hours a week to spend on each drawing, especially when I had thesis deadlines. So, instead, I was left to rush my already lacking drawing ability and try to create something not totally hopeless. Now, I am not meaning to throw myself a pity party here. I know that I am not horrible at drawing. I do understand perspective and shading, and I do believe that I have some artistic ability. I just felt frustrated that the drawings I was producing were not anything I was proud of. Though, I will admit, I do believe that I improved. I started learning techniques that helped me avoid the sketchiness of my drawings, my favorite of which was using the eraser as a smudging tool. I enjoyed the class. It was great to finish a brain numbing metaphysics paper and move on to a drawing. I thought the assignments were fun and creative and I really enjoyed my professor. However, I believe it is time to turn in my pencils and declare myself retired. Though I do feel inspired to try my hand at painting again!