Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thoughts on Drawing at Duke

Drawing has always been an activity that immediately immerses me in a state of tranquility. When my life is whizzing by quickly, I can pick up a pencil. I let my hands take over, allow my mind to wander, and really get lost in what I am doing. During high school, I began to realize how much I needed this time to unwind and shut off the cerebral aspect of my world. After my first semester of college, I became conscious of how much I missed having this time and emotional space dedicated to both focusing without distraction and letting go.

This class has been an opportunity to reconnect with this side of myself and relax. Life at Duke moves really fast, with everyone, including myself, striving towards concrete goals. When I draw, my only goal is to produce a piece of work that I feel proud of. I was nervous I would be rusty after the break I took from drawing, but was relieved to discover that my hands still know what to do. I hope they always will, so I can have this passion to fall back on throughout my future endeavors.

I began these five pieces by exploring the idea of transition. As a freshman in a brand new environment, I questioned – how do we all acclimate to new places, which at first may appear overwhelming and daunting? How do we make big spaces feel small? I enjoy drawing figures, so focusing on facial expression and the human form became points of emphasis throughout my successive pieces as I explored this concept.

My first piece pictures a girl staring up at the grand, looming Duke chapel. I aimed to juxtapose the extreme difference in size between the figure and the structure. Through her facial expression, the tone I hoped to create was one of optimism and new opportunity.

My second piece shows a friend of mine holding a basketball. Basketball has been a passion of his throughout his lifetime, so he continued pursuing this at Duke. He has expressed that doing so reinforces his sense of self and fulfillment.

The next piece was more literal; it shows the same boy in a dorm hall. This time, I wanted the background to the dominate the drawing, presented as more important than the figure itself.

I struggled with the following piece. It was supposed to mark a progression, throughout which the girl begins to feel more at peace in her new environment. She finds that enjoying the little things, like flowers and nature, can keep one grounded. I tried to incorporate leaving white space in the background, rather than filling the whole page with value. However, I had difficulty constructing the background and was not satisfied with the final product.

My last piece pictures the back of a male. This time, I wanted to place total emphasis on the contours and muscles of the human form. I sought to make the background a bit more ambiguous and abstract - almost appearing cloud-like - promoting the notion of limitless perception: the idea that anyone can shape their perception of their environment, and their role in it, however they please.

By the end of this semester, I came to realize that I want to focus in greater detail on the human form itself. Going forward, I hope to explore this as I continue drawing this summer.

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