Friday, November 30, 2012

Vicky's Thoughts on Drawing

When I was 3 years old I told me mother I wanted to be an artist. I really enjoyed my coloring books, jewelry making kits, and water color paints. Then, my mother told me that artists didn't make any money and I promptly decided to become a veterinarian instead. I still enjoyed my various art projects: pottery, knitting, scrapbooking, etc., but as I got older there was less and less time for art. When my friend asked me to take Drawing 101 with her, I was hesitant at first. I could doodle but I didn't think I could actually draw anything worth showing to a class. However, I decided to take the class anyways because it would be a nice change of scenery from all those science classes.
At first, it seemed like everyone in the class was already a master artist. I still found that it was super stress relieving to spend some time drawing in my sketchbook every week. Slowly, I gained more confidence in my drawing ability. I still may not be the best artist in the world, but I think I have significantly improved. I still can't draw trees that look like real trees, but I'm working on it.
The only stressful part about drawing class was how long it took to me to complete the last few projects. I think I spent more time on those than all of my other classes combined. It is probably just because I draw slowly and erase a lot. I wish I would have had more time for the big projects, or have been less focused on the little details so that it didn't take me 30 hours to finish one final drawing.
I enjoyed taking drawing this semester, and I think that I may occasionally keep sketching in my sketchbook from time to time. If I become a veterinarian at least I'll be able to draw their dogs for them and show them where they need to put medication. Other than that I think I'll stick to admiring art in museums and books.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reflections of the Past

In second grade, my mom fell in love with an assignment I had done where I had made a postcard based on illustrations from some of my favorite children's books. She hung it up and showered me with compliments about what a talented artist I was and how I should draw more.

I traced that postcard.
Traced it straight from the book.

My mom still insists that I am some fantastic artist, but I know better. Through this class I have been forced to see that drawing definitely is not my strongest skill. I love art, I really do. But something about the strict rules of drawing and the necessity for detail and precision really doesn't work for me. Recreating an image is so frustrating because it can always be proven imperfect by simply looking again at the source. Spending hours on a drawing only to realize the bench looks as tall as a 20 story building and the bridge is completely crooked is heartbreaking. This class has made me create things that I am not happy with, reflecting my inability to really commit to the art.

For each assignment, I felt like if I just spent more time on it, I could make something to be proud of. Drawing takes time. So. Much. Time. Assignment after assignment, I felt like I was selling myself short and disrespecting the art, because the reality was, I just did not have the time.

 I have definitely learned a whole new set of artful skills throughout the semester, and I do think I will continue to draw in a sketchbook. I think drawing is awesome, and I was in awe every single week with some of the art being created around me. The control necessary to create meticulous drawings just is not in me, but I did, and always will enjoy creating things on paper. When it comes to the arts, however, I think I mesh better with music, where mistakes are a bit more forgiving. I was no illustrator when I was 8 and I'm no great drawer at 20 either, but I am thankful for the opportunity to learn and try, no matter what ultimately ends up on the paper.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rachel's thoughts on drawing

Thus far in my education (high school and college), I have had limited exposure to the arts. I have always favored writing and reading to expressing myself through other media. I initially signed up for this class in hopes that I would be able to improve my communication style by adding another dimension. Given my limited experience, this class has been a real challenge for me... but, it has been truly inspirational to see what other people are capable of. 

As somewhat of a perfectionist, this class taught me to relax a bit and forgive myself for my lack of experience. Though this was not what I expected to gain out of this drawing class, I think it is an important lesson for me to carry with me as I move beyond Duke. I don't think I will ever be a great drawer, but I do hope that I can find some ways to practice and improve in ways that feel accessible and fun. 

I am excited to go back to NY and visit some of the museums with a new appreciation for all of the hard work and creativity present in many of the great works of art. I have always loved looking at art, but never really thought about what it must be like to create at that skill level... I think I will get a lot more out of other people's work now that I have made some attempts on my own. 

Overall, I am glad that I took this class. I know I have a long long way to go, but I am glad I started now rather than later! It has been great to round out my academic schedule with a creative pursuit, and I really appreciate the opportunity to do so. Thanks! 

Molly's Thoughts on Drawing

Growing up, I had never really considered myself 'artistic'. I was always good at math and science. I did not think of myself as very creative, always having a hard time coming up with ideas for writing assignments and projects. But in ninth grade, I decided to take a visual arts course, and I loved it. I loved being able to make things and express this whole other side of me. I also thought it was such a great break from my other classes. A main focus of this visual arts course was drawing. I did not consider myself a great drawer, but I just tried it, and I realized that when I put the effort in, I could do it. I could draw. This first experience drove me to take some more interest in art and led me to explore ceramics and photography.

While studying at Duke, I feel like I've lost sight of my artistic interest a little. I have focused a lot on my science classes and research. At some point last year, I realized this and decided to make myself get back into art through this drawing course. It had been a while since I had really done any drawing, but I knew I would like it if I could really get into it. Sure enough we're at the end of the semester, and I am absolutely appreciative of this opportunity. This class has forced me to take the time out of reading textbooks, memorizing Chinese characters, and working in the lab to sit down and draw. It gave me an outlet, a way to clear my head and do something different for a little while.

While I am glad that I took this course, it has definitely given me some challenges. I struggled with not being able to get my drawings exactly perfect. I sometimes would get agitated with how much time I had to put into a drawing to get it to look even decent. But through all of this, I've learned a lot of new techniques like subtractive drawing and using negative space (which was my favorite assignment by far, I loved thinking this way and putting everything into a different perspective). I really liked drawing Duke's campus. I think it's beautiful, and I'm extremely happy to now have drawings of some of my favorite places.

I really liked getting to see other students' work. It was really cool to see what people would choose to draw and how they would draw it. I have been impressed countless times with others' work, and it has shown me what's really possible.

Overall this course has shown me a lot, thanks for a great semester Professor Fick!

Ann's Thoughts on Drawing

When I was a kid, I enjoyed doodling on my scratch paper while I was supposed to be working on my math homework. Most times, I only drew stick figures and people with weird proportions, wishing however, that I could draw real people, or anything that was realistic and detail-oriented. That is why I decided on taking this drawing course at Duke, and so far, it has been one of the best courses I have ever taken.

After a single semester of learning, we have learned how to use pencil, charcoal, eraser, and even hand and tissue techniques to draw. We have also learned how to draw contours, shadows, and space using all the techniques of negative drawing and contrasts. Throughout the year, I would draw on my sketchbook as a way to express myself, and also as a way to relieve the pressures from studying. Drawing is a healthy way to relax, and it made weekends productive, a time that I would have otherwise squandered away.

Besides learned the various techniques, another invaluable lesson that I gained through this course is the lesson: going through experiences, trails, and redrawings truly improves my technique and makes me a better artist. In the past, I attributed the drawing skills of others to their ‘talent’ in drawing. Though this is true to some extent, I have now realized that it is the continuous practice and effort that leads to satisfactory artwork. An example is my experience with charcoal. I had never learned how to sketch in an official art class before, and charcoal was an unfamiliar tool for me. The first time that I tried to draw trees with charcoal, I used several pages on my sketch book in figuring out how to use the different edges of a charcoal bar to obtain the correct shadings on the tree. After smearing charcoal all over my hands and clothes after the first trail, I was disappointed as I saw that the tree was nothing more than a dark mess when compared to my pencil-shaded one work. Changing strategy, I then tried drawing branches with charcoal pencil, which looked much better. Now I love drawing the Duke Chapel with charcoal pencil on my landscape drawings. It is not only gained technique, but also gained confidence in my ability to do a charcoal drawing. After extensive practice in class this semester, I believe that most of us students have a better control of charcoal.

Another invaluable lesson that I learned is the art of patience. Sitting in front of the drawing board for six hours is not an easy task in itself. Furthermore, moving back and forth to see the whole work, erasing and adding a few strokes, and using your finger as a drawing tool is a tiring task with slow results. With the music playing in the background, drawing five or more hours continuously has become one of my Friday routines, yet also one that I look forward to. It is true that we have to pay effort to be able to draw like we have, but the satisfaction that I gain as I finish in the middle of the night is an incredible joy. The fulfillment from finishing a drawing that took patience and careful effort is much greater than how I feel when I finish a mediocre project in haste. 

Drawing is simultaneously a great challenge for me, and yet also such a gratifying way of expressing myself. I am fortunate that I was able to learn in this course, coupled with taking in on a beautiful, scenic campus at Duke. Thanks you Professor Fick for this awesome semester!