Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reconnecting with Drawing - Timo Santala

This is my final Last Day of Class ever. It has been an incredible time here at Duke and the reality of leaving is just beginning to hit me. This last semester has been my most enjoyable, by far. For the last four years, I have been completing an ECE / Compsci dual major with an Economics minor. The corresponding courseload was extremely taxing at times and I often found myself going through the motions of the coursework, but not really caring (this is true for my ECE work, especially). While I have no regrets in my majors and concentrations, I am very happy I was able to depart from my typical ECE/CS-laden courseload in this final semester and take such courses as Introduction to Arts of the Moving Image, Meteorites, and of course, Introduction to Drawing (in addition to my required ECE Design Course). ARTVIS 199 became both my most time consuming and rewarding course by a longshot.

I was actually very involved with art throughout middle school and high school. I placed into an advanced art program in the 6th grade and continued with it through to AP Studio in my senior year of high school. Once I arrived at college, however, my schedule (outlined above) precluded me from art courses - I could either not spare the course slot or the time to enroll in a drawing course. These contingencies were not a factor this semester, and so here I am working on the last assignment I will complete for this drawing course.

At the start of this course, I recognized that my drawing proficiency had dropped considerably from where I had left it off fours years ago at Paul D Schreiber High School. However, the drawing consistency brought on by the combination of in-class assignment, homework assignments, and filling my sketchbook quickly brought me back to my prior drawing condition. I quickly moved forward from here. I think the most valuable lesson we had in this course (for me, needless to say) was the lecture on negative space. I had never focused on the negative space for a still life, so when prompted to consider the negative space I exclusively focused on the negative space for these assignments (i.e. I actively avoided focusing on the objects, themselves). By considering the negative space when drawing from real-life perspective, especially, you can effectively double the visual input that guides your drawing strokes, enabling far more accurate depictions, I've found. I have adapted this lesson into a new approach that has improved my pace and accuracy notably: I perform an initial outline based on focusing on the subject, itself, and then double-check the precision of my lines based on matching the negative space of my work with reality, adjusting as necessary. Emphasis on negative space helped refine the precision of my lines in the early phases of a drawing piece.

This was by far my favorite course this semester (and perhaps at Duke) and has made me wish I had pursued visual arts courses since freshman year. In general I have very few regrets with my college career, but I think taking this course has made me recognize one.

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