Art has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child I was always making some kind of art: not only drawing, but painting, shaping little animals out of Sculpey clay, making collages with magazine clippings or foam shapes or glitter, or making creatures out of beads and wire. I would fill countless coloring books and make little mandalas with my aunt, an art therapist, and I would doodle in my notebooks at school. I grew older, and art became a less integral part of my life as I got busier and more focused on academics. I still managed to make time for music, as I still practiced the piano regularly, but my interest in visual art waned somewhat. In my freshman year of high school, I took painting and printmaking, and I revisited it in my senior year when I decided to forgo AP Spanish in favor of AP Studio Art with some of my best friends and my art teacher I'd had since the first grade. Throughout my experiences with art in my life, I grew more adept at drawing through practice, but my education in the medium was fragmented. I had never taken a class that focused on it, so I was excited to gain that experience through this class at Duke.
At first, this class was both enjoyable and quite frustrating for me as I struggled to manage my time with my drawings and my engineering classes. I tend to be a perfectionist, so it was difficult for me to actually sit down and start drawing because I would get hung up on all the potential mistakes—I would rather not do something at all than do a mediocre version. Once I actually began drawing, it was often therapeutic and relaxing, unless it was late at night as I tried to finish the piece on time while still doing a good job. During the process, one of the things I struggled with most was accurately capturing the shapes of the objects I was drawing, but as we got into later assignments, I really enjoyed experimenting with different textures to represent different elements of the image.
It was also difficult for me to space out my sketches because of my time management; I neglected them for the first part of the semester and ended up catching up during the last several weeks of the semester. I'm actually glad it happened this way, because during those last weeks I was drawing very often and I started using my spare moments to churn out sketches. It's almost become a habit, and even though we turned in our portfolios today I've still found myself thinking about when I can draw in my sketchbook. I really want to continue drawing regularly in a sketchbook after this class, and I think the way that I ended up completing my sketchbook will help meet achieve that goal. I also eventually found that setting a timer for my sketches helped me to be less of a perfectionist. It allowed me to focus more on creating a beautiful representation of the image in front of me rather than an identical and realistic one.
Over all, I enjoyed this class immensely and I'm very glad that I took it. I learned so many helpful techniques that I had never considered; I've improved tremendously at drawing from observation, something I'd always been wary of before; I've made a habit out of sketching, something that I can use to stay connected to art and improve my drawing in the future; and finally, I've learned how to enjoy drawing again, rather than having it be a stressful endeavor.