Drawing has always been something I deeply enjoyed. When I was younger, I remember anxiously changing out of my P.E. clothes, hoping to get up to Ms. Cirigliano's art studio as fast as possible. I remember the soft and sweet smelling ivory paper she gave us to draw on. It actually was more yellow than ivory. It wasn't smooth, but it was so soft--it felt like a mandolin slice of a cashmere sweater. We had wooden blocks with twelve shallow, little holes to support the 12 Magic Markers pegged into the wood--each stood up a little crookedly. We always got to draw after clean up and before our homeroom teacher picked us up from Ms. Cirigliano’s. This was the best time. Dulled edges of these over used markers bled, sometimes rich, sometimes dry, ink into the cashmere paper. Swirls and strokes of these 12 pegs made some beautiful creations of fantasies that my little mind cooked up. With immense pride I would inscribe “To: MoMmy” to bring them home as gifts.
When I was a foot older, I remember being sat at dinner next to one of my mother’s insanely cool clients. At this age I did not know the difference between clients and friends, so I was immediately comfortable with her, “knowing” she was a beloved “friend” of my mothers. She was a fashion designer with a collection coming out in the spring. She was from Italy, but she was accent less. Tall and slender with a “boy” haircut she was the definition of chic. I remember she pulled out a cocktail napkin and a pen from her bag and taught me how to draw a fashion figure. 9 heads, shoulders and hips bent, long eyelashes, with broad shoulders. She handed me the pen and on my marinara stained napkin I was initiated into what would become an obsession. She gushed at what I assume were pitiful attempts, but nevertheless her instructions were carved into my brain. I bought books and watched videos, my goal was to practice always and perfect the illustration of the illustrious fashion figure.
As childhood obsession do, eventually mine diminished. However, I still doodled the 9 heads in the loose-leaf present mindlessness that often was school. From 6th grade until my freshman year of college this was as deep as my involvement in art went. While utility was definitely absorbed from my margin drawings, by the time I was a freshman here at Duke I needed more.
Last year, I started really focusing on my 9 heads—practicing, planning, and completing colorful and clean lined outfits, all in “trend” for fall 2015. Maybe it was because I got no fulfillment from giant lectures? Or maybe I was just bored? The obsession resurfaced in the form of Amazon Prime shipments of hundreds of different colored markers and pencils. I found myself hunched over, careening neon pink markers through smooth, cold printer paper. It was incredibly cathartic—a way to block out the noise that was my freshman year mind. That was my roommate. I was drawing all the time, and I was getting good.
By Spring semester I wanted to be more formally trained in drawing, I wanted to understand perspective, understand depth, understand texture. I promised myself, with help of goading from my peers, to take Drawing 101. So that I did.
At first I was astonished at my inability to understand sharp and straight lines, my mental block and confusion to processing the morphology of wooden boxes and mannequin legs. I was so used to curves and the asymmetry of the human body. I was used to imperfection and eraser marks.
Aside from feelings of pressure for “perfect” drawings, there were so many questions that muddled my understanding of drawing and undermined my confidence as an artist. I have to consider light? Perspective? I have to hold my pencil out and twist it to understand angles? How do I shade? Why is charcoal so messy? What I thought would be a class that would continue to provide the cathartic support I got from drawing in my dorm, was actually giving me a little anxiety! But with practice, guidance, and time my aversion to drawing still-life, architecture, and furniture became a lot less daunting. And with more free-form assignments I was able to dabble in my preferred drawing of human figures and clothing, but paired with realistic backgrounds and props.
I definitely have grown immensely as an artist and drawer this semester. I have found my strengths and weaknesses, and have found an incredible sense of peace while doing so. Drawing has provided a sense of fulfillment and therapy that could be achieved through nothing else, and for that I am extremely grateful.
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