Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Seeing Beauty (Final Thoughts on Drawing)

One of my goals for this year (a New Year’s resolution of sorts) was to see more beauty in the world. Having an ambiguous goal, such as seeing more beauty, is pretty out of character for myself. I am the definition of a Type-A person; I like to set realistic, attainable goals, and sub-goals to meet those goals. I make to-do lists where I can check off my accomplishments and visualize my progress. I keep everything in my life organized and tidy, so at any point I can know just what to expect (or at least I tell myself I can). So by setting this goal, I hoped to take a step away from that; I hoped that I could use this year to find beauty and meaning in the messy and mundane nature of life.

I signed up for this drawing class because I wanted to take a class during my Senior Spring at Duke that was unlike any other class I had taken before. I have always really enjoyed painting, and often use it as a stress-reliever during crazy times in my life, so I thought drawing would be a nice extension of that. I hoped to improve my artistic abilities and eye for design and enjoy myself while doing it.

Once I set this goal of seeing more beauty around me, I figured taking this drawing class would be the perfect way to build on that. I admired the way photographers and painters could portray the beauty in seemingly everyday activities, or in non-traditionally beautiful locations. I wanted to have an eye like those artists, to be able to capture the beauty in any situation. Initially I looked forward to using my sketchbook and large assignments to train my eye to see the world differently.

Well, this drawing class did in fact change the way I saw the world, although, not quite in the way I expected it to. Where I used to drive down the tree-lined portion of campus drive and admire the way the sun shone through the branches and the patterns of light it made on the ground, now I find myself driving down the road thinking, “Wow. It would be so difficult to capture the detail of these leaves. It would take hours to draw these trees and show the depth of them and the way the light shines upon them.” Where I used to stare up at the chapel and marvel at its architectural beauty, now there are times when I walk past and think, “That’s a lot stone. How could I ever capture all that detail? This is overwhelming.”

However, while its is true that I now have moments where I have to try to turn off my brain because I can’t look at the flowers in the gardens without thinking of how many countless hours it would take to draw them, I think I have made strides to seeing more beauty. As the semester comes to a close, I have found myself better able to use this attention to detail and intricacies as a way to appreciate the complexities and value of every sight and situation. So while I am still working on my goal of seeing more beauty, I am thankful for the perspective this drawing class has given me, even if it is not the one I expected.

[Loren Roth]

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