Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thoughts on Drawing: Capturing Life

Prior to this course, I had only taken a studio art class in high school. I learned my teacher’s definition of the fundamentals of drawing which consisted of various techniques mostly shading. However, I became so focused on the technique that I lost the personality and emotions behind the pieces. I looked over my drawings from high school and they seemed dull and lifeless but precise. Conveying emotions in a creative way was one of the main reason that I wanted to learn how to draw so I focused on developing this skill over the course of the semester. I focused on not only conveying an object in my drawing but also conveying life. I quickly learned that even inanimate objects can express life through their arrangements. I also learned that arrangements can tell stories.

For the first assignment, I gathered random objects and assembled them on the trunk in my room. 
After a few minutes of sketching, I began to lose interest in my drawing. I noticed that as my interest decreased, the quality of drawing decreased as well. I removed all of the objects from my trunk and tried to start over. I reflected on how I could connect with the viewer of my drawing. What emotions do I want them to feel? How will someone experience this piece? How will someone better understand me by seeing this drawing? Since there were no titles for the line drawings, I was forced to challenge myself and think of how to convey more than a title and more than a random assortment of objects. I tried to brainstorm the type of experience that I wanted to capture but I immediately started thinking of titles instead of emotions and creating personality. I realized that titles can often distract people when they experience a drawing because they are constantly trying to connect each decision that the artists made back to the title. I looked around my room and began to notice objects that evoke a sense of pride. I saw my djembe drum and thought about how it symbolizes pride in my heritage and memories of playing it with my family. The shape of the drum added circular shapes in contrast to the rigid edges of the trunk. Although the drum is wrapped in a kente cloth that has rectangular shapes, I wanted to capture the curves in the body of the drum so I chose to highlight the round elements. I thought about how other objects could play off of the shape of the drum and which objects evoked a sense of pride. I selected an elephant from my collection of elephants because it connects with my heritage and being of African descent. I also selected because it added movement by capturing the elephant while it is walking. I continued to build up upon my original vision of pride and culture and add more objects. I thought about how my arrangement could tell a story about me.
These first few drawing helped to understand how to build a drawing. It requires an intense intentionality that I had not been taught in my previous courses. I had to start with the blue print and think about the message that I wanted to convey but also be comfortable with leaving room for interpretation. I stopped rushing into my drawing and always started with first defining the personality of the piece. It became much easier to apply the techniques that I learned in this course and my high school course when I knew what direction I was heading in my drawings. It also became much more enjoyable when I had a vision while drawing. In order to remind myself to capture personality and life in a drawing, I began to think of drawing as a language and the different techniques and elements are words so the drawing must always be legible and understandable. The drawing must be so legible that the viewer can read your experience and create their own interpretation possibly based on their own life.

Although a blank page can be intimidating, one of the many lessons that I learned from this drawing course is how to make my drawings come off the page, come to live and tell stories. These stories can be from my own life or evoke a feeling like pride. After developing these skills in the earlier assignments, it became much easier to draw pieces that we had to title or when we had to capture a particular scene. I was able to always keep the viewer’s experience in mind and connect the drawing to my overall vision.

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