Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thoughts on Drawing

I love drawing. Already as a child in primary school I wouldn’t want to leave in the afternoons because I was busy drawing. My first exposure to drawing classes was in grammar school in Germany. But it was a required class and most people didn’t really put effort into their work. Although I loved the subject, I didn’t like the atmosphere in the class. In 10th grade I started with actual “art classes”. These were not simple curriculum requirements but instead taking by students who actually wanted to learn more about art. I took one trimester of photography, one of sculpture and one of ceramics. I loved them but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for in terms of arts. In 11th and 12th grade I finally got to draw and paint. Studio Art (both years) was one of my favorite classes in high school. It was relaxing and so enjoyable because everyone in the class was very focused and dedicated.

Coming to Duke, as a premed, I started with a lot of science classes and with some freshman requirements sprinkled in. The first semester freshman year I didn’t do any art until Christmas break came around. Sitting at home and making Christmas cards I realized that I was missing art - so much. In the beginning of the second semester I told myself I’d go to the arts annex regularly and draw. But I ended up being so busy with class work that I never did it. I only went to one rush event of the SLG Arts Theme House and painted a horse on canvas there. I had the best Friday night in a long time doing that and I was so proud of the outcome.

Therefore, this semester I decided to take Drawing 199, not only to fulfill my ALP requirement but also to “force” myself to draw on a regular basis. Even though I was overloading, I was hoping that it would be a good change of pace for me next to my science classes. The topic of the class also really appealed to me because I’ve never been much of an abstract drawer. I always drew what I saw in front of me or what I saw on photographs. Therefore, I especially enjoyed the last two drawings, for which I could be more creative and expand beyond objects from my room. I got a little bored of drawing similar objects over and over again, so getting out to draw somewhere on campus was a wonderful change for me.

I was able to challenge myself with the class in a very different way than I challenge myself in my pre-med classes. I had never worked with line value before, nor had I done a negative space drawing or drawn big spaces and buildings. I also challenged myself with different media (pencil and charcoal) to figure out which one I was most comfortable with and with which I needed more practice. Pencil was more precise, which was a great advantage for me because I love detail. But the fact that I was able to erase all my lines without leaving much of a trace made me question every line I drew, so that I redrew it over and over again. Charcoal on the other hand left traces, so that I kept erasing and redoing lines at a minimum and focused on getting everything right the first time. Moreover, charcoal also allowed for more intense shading, which I really liked. Since both media have benefits and drawbacks, alternated between using them and my use of charcoal especially in my quicker study drawings. I could see my improvement throughout the course as I learned more and more techniques and was able to apply them to the subsequent assignments. I am especially proud of my final drawing, I think that is the best drawing work I’ve done in a long time.

Even though this class was more work than I expected it to be, I am still glad that I took it to “force myself to draw”. Now that I’m in the habit of doing it again, I believe that I will be able to draw on my own next semester. I’ve seen how much I improve by simply drawing one picture once a week and I’ve also realized how relaxing drawing is as a balance to my science-heavy classes. Therefore, I’m really happy that I took the class to bring drawing back into my life.

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