Friday, April 22, 2016

(Not So) Final Thoughts on Drawing

Throughout my childhood, I always enjoyed drawing and recreating my favorite images and memories through art. A lifelong baseball player and avid sports fan, I would do my best to draw my favorite stadiums, arenas, and golf courses. In elementary school, most kids would look forward to fooling around during art class, viewing it as a break from their challenging math and science classes. I looked forward to art class, albeit for different reasons. Art, particularly drawing, was a hobby of mine, and my art classes gave me the opportunity to practice that hobby. When I reached middle school, art classes were no longer mandatory, but I elected to take them anyway. I continued to take art classes until early high school.

In tenth grade, things started to change. My priorities shifted toward my more challenging honors and Advanced Placement classes, the SATs, and getting into college. I also took more time-consuming roles in my extra-curricular activities, like athletics and student-run clubs. In eleventh and twelfth grade, these commitments became even more demanding. Unfortunately, my hobbies like drawing took a backseat to my other obligations. My only attempts to keep my drawing hobby alive came in the form of notebook doodles.

After graduating high school, I told myself that I would use college as an opportunity to explore new subjects and areas of interest. I looked forward to taking advantage of all of the resources makes available to its students. However, it was not long before I discovered the competitive nature of Duke academics. Every semester, my schedule was filled with demanding major, minor, and general education requirements. When I had a rare free slot in my schedule, I would fill it with an “easy-A” class. Although I would have liked to experiment with a challenging class in an unfamiliar discipline, I feared that it would take too much time away from my required courseload, my job/internship search, and the other demanding obligations I faced as a college student at an elite institution like Duke.

As a junior, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend a semester studying in London. I traveled across Europe visiting some of the world’s most famous museums, slowly, but surely rediscovering my appreciation for art. A year later, I began the bittersweet process of “bookbagging” for my final time as a Duke student. For my final semester at Duke, I wanted to take a course that was enjoyable, yet unfamiliar and challenging. What could be better than an introductory drawing course? It had been a long time since I had last taken an art class, but I looked forward to the challenge.

After taking one look at the syllabus, I knew this class would be different from the others I had taken at Duke. No textbooks, no problem sets, no final exams. Throughout the semester, I looked forward to drawing class because it was so unique from my other classes. In every other one of my classes, my task has been to take something that someone else had created, and respond to it. But drawing is different. My task in drawing is not to interpret someone else’s work, but to create my own. Every week, I would create something that was completely my own. I always found it interesting to walk around the room during the early classes when we drew still life representations. Everyone would be looking at the same objects, but the drawings would always look so different. Every artist had a unique style, and this would be demonstrated in his or her varying portrayals of the same objects. Another aspect of drawing I particularly enjoyed was the hands-on approach. We spent little time reading about drawing methods. Rather, we learned these methods by practicing them – over and over again.

As I prepare to leave Duke and begin the next chapter of my life, I hope drawing stays with me as a hobby and as a passion. I hope to continue to learn about and appreciate this challenging yet unique discipline. And lastly, I hope to continue to use drawing as a way to express myself throughout my life. I entitled this post “(Not So) Final Thoughts on Drawing,” because while it represents my final thoughts on this particular drawing class, I know it is only the beginning of my thoughts on drawing itself. I am glad I was able to rediscover my love for drawing through this class, and I look forward to making sure I never lose it again.

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