Monday, December 4, 2017

Thoughts on Drawing

As a wise-fool (sophomore) at Duke without any prior arts classes at this university, I needed to fulfill the ALP requirement. I did not want to choose something that I wasn't interested in, what would be the point? With the thought of being in college and wanting to explore different areas of interest, I thought that it would be a travesty if I did not try something new. I first heard about this class from my friend who took it the year prior. She highly recommended if I was into drawing. I took one year of graphic design my freshman year of high school. I enjoyed the art aspect of it, but I also wished that it was on a different medium than that of a computer. I thought, "Why not? This is an art class that does not require the use of Adobe Illustrator. I dig it." With that thought in mind, I decided to enroll in the class.
I had no knowledge of how to draw anything before this class. I occasionally doodled in my notebook, but ultimately, I am sure the best I could draw was a stick figure with hair or a hat. Straight lines? Forget it, I could not even draw straight lines for geometry homework. Shading? I am sure my finest shading work was for algebra homework when it was required to graph an inequality equation and shade part of it. Organic material? As I previously mentioned, my stick figures were the best I could do.
After the 14(ish) weeks of being in this class, I can say that I definitely learned. I have extended my list of items I am able to draw to include landscapes, negative space (which is very messy btw, do not make the same mistake that I made; do NOT wear white clothes), and pictures of various objects or material. Granted, I am no Picasso or Warhol, but I have improved from where I was previously. At the beginning and during the middle of the semester, I consistently ha a hard time making dark lines. I was afraid that it would look worse, so I left it alone. I can say with some confidence that after I made the transition of using dark lines, my drawings became much better. I liked my drawings more after I made the change, and I learned that I should not be afraid to be more confident with my lines and details. I still have a hard time shading dark objects because I press too hard with the tip of the pencil, so when I try to blend it, it does not blend all the way and looks terrible.
The part I liked about this class was the sketchbook. I enjoyed the freedom to draw what I wanted. Most of the time, I had no idea what to draw, so I started this trend of drawing pictures that can be associated with random phobias. I learned that, similar to "There's an app for that," that if you are scared of something, most likely there's a phobia it can be linked too; so "There's a phobia for that." It kept me motivated to not only learn about weird things people may be afraid of, but also practice drawing various objects. I never found my style of drawing, but I hope that if I continue sketching, I'll eventually find it. It was very nice doing something that wasn't swimming or schoolwork. The part I disliked about this class was how we never varied from the type of drawings we drew for the projects due every week. I wish we learned how to draw other art forms than realism, abstract for example. I wanted to explore the art realm because, most likely, I am not going to take any more art classes in undergraduate college. Overall, I'm glad I found something that I'm passionate about and would consider pursing further after college.

Thoughts on Drawing -- Micheal

I've been making art of various sorts for a long time. And I've been drawing for quite some time, as well. The idea of spending free time drawing is nothing new to me--I took this class knowing that. I know, too, that I really enjoy drawing and should probably continue to pursue this because when I hold a pencil or pen (or some other writing instrument) I feel comfortable. I love doodling; I do it all the time. If I have a something to write with and something to write on, chances are I’ll end up filling the page with scribbles—it’s compulsive, I suppose. It’s natural for me to pick up a pencil and start drawing. I often doodle when I’m nervous. I’ve had teachers tell me that they could hardly read what I've written on tests/essays because I’ve subconsciously scribbled little shapes and doodles during every moment I wasn’t too busy writing.

Although, I do get stressed out drawing, as well—as many people do, I'm aware. I used to take weeks to finish a relatively simple piece, just because I would have a piece of paper in front of me, and some idea that would require careful work and technical skill, and I could not bring myself to put marks on paper. I’d sit in front of that drawing and do nothing. I get indecisive when the choice of what to put on a final work presents itself to me. It’s this kind of stress that used to make me wonder if I should even continue drawing and making art, but it also made me think about my style—and what exactly I feel comfortable making. Because, as I’ve come to realize, works requiring a lot of precise detail are my bane (yet were what I used to work toward). It’s only recently that I’ve figured out I should really stop trying to be precise—as I’ve realized in my doodling, I work best when I let my hand speak for itself and move, not by my brain, but by my intuition.

Of course, part of this is that I lack technical skill—a lot of my stress about drawing comes when I try to draw a thing­—when I move away from intuitive gestures and toward representing some object(especially when I’m trying to depict that object somewhat realistically). At first, in this class, I tried a little bit of that... Before immediately realizing that was absolutely not what I was willing to do. I should—it would increase my skill and my ability. But I won't. I just don’t enjoy it. Having to make drawings in an environment (i.e. this class) with time limits, subject requirements, and an immense amount of other work, I’ve learned exactly what it is I don’t like to spend time doing.

I cannot express in words how much I hate with a searing passion: Bricks. Clouds. Shiny objects. Anything else that is tedious and boring to create. As soon as I leave the realm of the gestural, I hate whatever it is I’m working on. If I could scribble faux-leaves and shade round-ish objects until the end of time, I would be just fine. Clouds piss me off in a special way: I’ve found that I’m not into the fluffy, silky look—isn’t it so weird how we can see a drawing of a cloud and go “that looks fake” even though clouds can take almost any physical/textural form? I hate ‘em.

It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve realized how much I love playing with texture—and not the smooth, silky kind, or the close-up, detailed kind, but the rough, loose kind. Literally—I basically scribble values onto paper, completely ignoring the rule that, when hatching/crosshatching, I should be lifting my pencil between strokes and drawing smooth, parallel lines. Frankly, I don’t have the patience to not scribble. It must be in my DNA or something.

I’ve been told that I draw as if I were painting, which is funny, because I’m kind of awful at painting. I imagine much of that is a lack of practice/confidence, but I also just lack an eye for color. It’s just never something I thought about. I had a teacher for many years who would always tell me, that in every little thing I put on paper, I always need to clearly distinguish darks from lights, even when painting. And this teacher would also always tell me that my obsession over things looking correct didn’t matter—what mattered was that they looked right, that the viewer could know what I was drawing, even though the details might not match exactly match up with reality. Though, sometimes that didn’t even matter, as long as I made something visually interesting. I suppose this is where a decent part of my style comes from—from saying to myself, do I really care if this thing looks exactly as it does in real life/the photo? Chances are, I don't.

It’s quite hard to believe in my gestural style when the last 400 years have been filled with ideas of drawing as a technical, precise sort of practice. I spent years trying to become a more technical artist, often influenced by other artists who always seemed to have such perfect economy in their strokes, and could make the right marks/values on their first try. I think maybe practice will help, but it’s still somewhat frustrating when I try to depict a box and end up redrawing every line ten times because I can’t get the proportions right. And I still don’t have a grasp on how to choose my source images—I accidentally end up with a headache of a drawing, all the time. But I don’t plan on stopping; despite the headaches, it’s fun.

Thoughts on Drawing

Taking this class was actually a really interesting experience for me. I did art for all four years of high school—and by my junior and senior had really developed my own “style.” Since high school, I haven’t done a lot of art—little sketches and projects here and there, sure—but nothing like the constant work I did before. I was a little concerned that I’d have lost a lot of ground from going such a long stretch without really practicing. But I was relieved to find when I started this class that that wasn’t the case.

I’ve never given too much credence to the saying that our art is a reflection of ourselves—but I was definitely surprised by the differences between my art in high school and my art now. When I started drawing again—and especially doing sketchbook pages—I found that some aspects of my style had naturally changed, without me even trying. My artwork in high school was a lot more visually busy—with expressive (or messy) lines and brushstrokes everywhere. Now I’ve noticed my work has become more tidy and geometrically-based. My use of color is similar both then and now though.



Example of my art from high school


A sketchbook page from this semester




I’m not sure why my work’s taken on a more modern aesthetic, but I definitely like it. I like that I’m more comfortable with simplicity and negative space. It’s like I’ve lost the need to “prove myself” or something. I also find that I relate to my current work much more than I do to my earlier work—which suggests that my work in this class is a more accurate reflection of who I am now. It’s interesting to be able to track these changes so clearly.

Thoughts on drawing - Michaela Anderson

Drawing has always been interesting for me because of how dynamic my view of it. I relate to many artists in the sense that one minute I can love my art, and the next I can hate it; but I've always been surprised by how easily my view of it can change. I believe drawing, and in extension, art, will always be an integral part of my identity, and that my perspective of it will always be changing--and that that's a good thing.

While it may be vain or potentially shallow, one of my favorite parts personally of drawing is how it can be such a comforting thing. It allows me to retreat from anxieties and stresses by simply sitting down and drawing what I want. Drawing has always been a consistent, stable thing for me that I can rely on it to always be there. While I can't consistently draw well, I can always draw, and that's something precious to me.

However, something I've always struggled with when it comes to drawing is originality. The unfortunate side effect of drawing being a comforting thing is that I usually resort to drawing that which is comfortable to me. Which means, in turn, a stagnation of originality--being too afraid to try new and potentially 'ugly' or 'uncomfortable' ideas. This is something that's been plaguing me my entire artistic career, but I hope I'll continue my efforts to resist the urge to resort to the comfortable and the well known, and try new things, because that's an important facet of creativity that drawing encourages.

Shifting topics a bit, my favorite thing to see in art is energy. Energy, dynamic poses, and expressiveness all appeal to me.


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I've kept a small collection of art that appeals to me in a personal blog, and I've always been looking for how to capture the energy I find so appealing.


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I'm still searching for just what I find appealing in art in hopes of better understanding my own tastes and therefore artistic goals.


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Even past art, I find inspiration in photography, environments. Since those aren't "drawings," I won't include them, but I won't discredit the inspiration I draw from them.

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Another huge inspiration for me is music. I'll play a song on loop just for the artistic inspiration it gives me--before long, I'll end up having played it over 20 times.


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While it can be difficult for me not to get envious over other artist's talents, I very much value collecting and appreciating art that stands out to me to dissect what it is I like about it.

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These have been just a few select examples from art that's stood out to me--While it's widely varied, I hope that I can find the common thread between my interests.

In conclusion, art and drawing are both very important to me, and I will hold them dear most likely for the rest of my life. I hope that I can continue to improve my technical skills, but most importantly, improve my creative skills and gain the confidence to do original work that matters to me, and hopefully others as well.

To Be Continued...

I've always enjoyed art; the process behind the finalized piece.  Before this class, I had never taken on Drawing as a skill. I was familiar with photography mostly, filming in some ways and even a little with painting. Still, there is something in drawing that had my attention. It is definitely time consuming but the good kind; the kind that keeps you intrigued until you are able to physically represent your mental image. Drawing allows me to say more than any other art skill; what you see, is what I see.

For that to happen, I had to become good at it, to learn the basic skills. I was used to doodling in notebooks, with no acquired or learned knowledge, as a lot of people do. But, I needed the knowledge, just like that I wasn't going to communicate what I wanted to.  I finally got a drawing book, it taught me a lot on faces, I was fascinated by the human face and the eyes mostly. I did some portraits, they looked better than they would have if I didn't have that knowledge; I knew I needed to learn more. That's how I got into Drawing 101. It felt like a challenge, so I took it.

I learned more than the skills that were taught in class. I learned to see... to see objects in raw materials and then see how every single details plays a role in the general image. Now, I see objects and immediately mentally place them in a paper, as if I were drawing with my mind. More than that I started to shape my style and playing with meaning and storyline. I want my work to go beyond the paper, to poke onto something in the viewer and create a link. I loved making the observer take action in my drawings, in each one of the last three we did, it involved a hand or some connection to it. On my last drawing I decided to play a little bit more with the observer, not to create an alternate world (fiction) but to involve the reality of what happens in the mind, with it I targeted emotions. I realized that this type of game and style is what I enjoyed doing. Therefore, even though every work took a really long time to accomplish, I was completely engaged to my ideas.
Drawing Duke was challenging, the buildings have a lot of small details but it also makes you appreciate the architecture more. It also limited, in some way, the freedom in the drawings, that made it harder to come up with an idea that you were passionate about. In my case, it took me a lot longer to find that idea, still I eventually found one for each project.

I ended up loving drawing. I still have a lot of room for improvement; for mastering the eye. But, I am improving; the more I practice the more natural it will come to me.

Look at this drawing artist: Monica Lee. She see's reality to its smallest detail and then puts it on paper, she does a remarkable job on portraying reality.

Thoughts on Drawing

From taking this class, I learned a lot about myself as an artist. I learned that I sometimes lack the patience it takes to complete a drawing that I might not be entirely inspired by. I also learned that I prefer using color instead of pencil or charcoal. Sketching in my notebook allowed me to discover this. I gained the most from my sketchbook because I had the most freedom. With my sketchbook I could explore what drawing means to me, and what I am most interested in. Since before this class I had done mostly painting, drawing in pencil for me became tedious, but I think it was important for me to experience using only pencil and charcoal because it pushed me to use more detail. I developed as an artist because I was forced to stick with a project, even if I became frustrated. After taking Drawing 199 I realised why this is a prerequisite for other courses. Once you learn how to observe space, it becomes much easier to begin a project, whether it is a drawing, painting, or sculpture.

I do not think I will spend as much time drawing in the future, but I hope to take everything I have learned and apply it to other art classes I will take at Duke. I think I prefer other modes of art, but they all connect to each other, so I do not feel that this class was a waste. I am glad I took it because it pushed my patience and attentiveness to detail. I hope I have the motivation to continue sketching in the future, because it was a way for me to unwind after completing my other schoolwork.

Thoughts on Drawing

Where I went to school, there was an art requirement that lasted until the second year of high school. As a lanky tom-boy who was absolutely horrible at sports, a large part of our school community, I found art class to be a safe haven.  It was something that no matter how little ability I had in the beginning, I could work and work on to see some physical proof of how I was improving.  By high school I had determined I wouldn't make it through the stressful school days without some time to create art, stretch my mind, and take a minute for something I enjoyed.  That's when art began to feel like a safe escape for me, which has kept me sketching throughout duke even if its in the minutes I have before bed after a long night of studying.

My true appreciation of art came in the form of my parents best friends.  I always grew up wanting to be a doctor, and now here I am premed at Duke.  My parents best friends both run their surgical departments at UPenn, but also ensure to spend their free time on the art, one spending her time learning orchestral instruments one by one, and the other using his surgical equipment to hone his skills and create beautiful masterpieces.

I was 7 when I went into the studio the first time and Mr. Maguire put his large ophthalmology headset over my head and told me to look through the massively zoomed in lenses.  There was a beautiful and intricately detailed landscape painted on the back of a dime.  He showed me as he made brush strokes with a single strand of hair.  He also makes massive, multiple foot oiling paintings of cows.  And I, as someone who has always been more into math and science, had massive interest in the way he treated each piece as a new type of problem.  Many times he calculated out proportions perfect for the piece, and would segment it into tiny squares.  I would watch mesmerized as he painted each strand of grass, making it twist along in the wind as he dragged his brush across the canvas. It is the Small Bull painting below that I got to the process of its creation.

Here are some pieces from the first gallery opening he ever had.  No date is listed but I remember it being about 10 years ago.  Both are oil on canvas.
Large Inquisitive Cows

Small Bull

It was their influence that led me to write my Duke essay about how I wanted to combine a premed science with a concentration in fine arts.  I have always found art to be a really interesting way to learn how to problem solve, and to have patience and budget my days to make time for things that helped me feel better.  I see a parallel between the surgeon I want to be one day, and the artist I can be in my spare time.  I believe art is something that would greatly enhance such a career, as it challenges the mind to reinterpret things, and problem solve in a new way.  Also as the Maguire's would point out, "A great way to train your fine motor skills so you can adeptly operate on nerves of the eyeball!"