Saturday, April 21, 2018

Thoughts on Drawing - Joanna Fan

As a graduating senior in her last semester, I took this class because I wanted to explore something new. As a science person all my life, I really wanted to explore the arts and creativity world, although I knew I probably wouldn't be very good at drawing because that's why I chose to focus on dealing with numbers at the first place anyways (half-jokingly).

Looking back, I do not regret this decision at all, although drawing has been a lot more difficult than expected. When I went to the art supplies shop at the beginning of the semester to buy supplies for this class, the helper at the store mistakenly gave me charcoal pencils for normal ones. As a result, I was very confused by the hardness and texture of my "pencil" for the first few classes, until Professor Fick pointed out to me a few classes later that I was using charcoal pencils. That pretty much summed up my experience with this drawing class - I tried, although sometimes confused, but overall very proud.

I think my major struggle with this course is that I find it very difficult to convert what is in my mind to something on paper. I'm able to draft a very detailed plan in my head with all the desired angels and shapes, but I often fail to deliver the same level of accuracy to paper. As a result, my final works often look frustratingly cartoony. I honestly think that I would appreciate more training in drawing smaller objects and easier landscapes before moving on to the last few major assignments at the end of the semester. But at the same time, I understand that we only have a very limited time in one semester, and people come in with different levels of experience. Although this class seems pretty hard to catch up with for a complete novice like me, I'm sure that many of my classmates had no problem keeping up with the progress at all. So one suggestion for Duke would be offering more drawing classes for students in different levels.

In conclusion, although I'm nowhere close to a decent drawer, I am proud that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Drawing shapes on a drawing board is a very different experience from calculating cash flows on Excel spreadsheets, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the process. I'm not sure if I will have an opportunity to take a drawing class again after graduation, but I will keep drawing as a hobby. I may be confused and frustrated during the day, but I know I will be very proud and regretless at the end.

Thoughts on Drawing - Eric Xu

I've always enjoyed being artistic, whether it was making sculptures with clay, making prints, or taking photographs. Though I've been heavily invested in the performing arts playing music, I haven't had any formal training in the visual arts for many, many years. I figured in my last semester here I'd try drawing. 

I don't think drawing was ever my favorite type of visual art, but I did always like to doodle and sketch random inventions in the margins of things I had to work on or read when I was younger. My sketchbook in this class ended up being representative of such things, and I'm glad I was able make more creative sketches. On the other hand, I had little experience making large scale scene drawings like we did in class. The assignments made me think about using drawing to tell a story, something I previously only thought about when taking photographs. I did come to find out that these large drawings can take up days of time to create. It was important to resist trying to draw every detail that I saw for the sake of not spending hours on one thing. Large drawings also change the movements of the arm and wrist required, requiring more control to avoid upsetting proportions. 

While narrative drawings were fun, I often found it difficult to imagine narratives to draw. I think my imagination works better for drawing objects with high detail but in isolation. I liked playing with animate and inanimate objects in my sketches, often morphing living things with machines that served fantastical purposes. Then I would draw in how I thought those things ought to work, omitting any sense of responsibility for proper engineering or practicality (that'd be a real engineer's job).  

Overall, this class was a nice departure from the usual types of classes I've taken. I've gotten better at drawing from observation just through practice and learning to recognize what I see and what the brain thinks I see. I think we could practice using shading and texture more before we are launched straight into drawing full narrative scenes. Most of what I learning in those areas just came from trial and error, but sometimes I just did not know how to make a texture look how I imagined. Maybe it is difficult to formally teach these techniques and the best way to learn is through trying it for ourselves. I'm sure I'll find more opportunities to practice and learn new methods of visual arts in the future.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thoughts on Drawing - Yixin Lin

Drawing has been an important part of my childhood. I've spent many days in either weekly classes or by myself drawing, usually from photographs but also a bit of sketching and painting from observation. When I was younger, I especially enjoyed drawing fan art and portraits of my favorite films, and also getting better at shading technique and the ability to recreate textures such as hair, skin, feathers, fur, etc.

However, drawing became rarer through high school and college. I would take the old skills out to draw personalized gifts e.g. for birthdays or Christmas, but the frequency dropped. Throughout this, my pieces would only be up to a normal A4 paper size, nothing as large as the expansive landscapes we drew in class.

I was glad to take a class at Duke which reemphasized my hobby, which I haven't taken a class for in many years. It allowed me to go back to the basics, learning techniques like the use of negative space which is highly useful and yet I haven't consciously thought much of. Again, the landscapes that we drew--much larger than most work I've done-- allowed me to draw buildings and explore textures such as grass and foliage on a much larger scale.

I also enjoyed the concept of a sketchbook-- I've only ever really drawn what we termed as "finished drawings" in class, pieces for which the intention was to finalize. The quick sketches in the sketchbook were useful to practice specific techniques in isolation or to try something new. Perhaps in the future I will keep a sketchbook to experiment with, maybe also in other mediums.

Finally, I appreciated the focus on narrative-driven art, even in still art. In the future, I hope to keep making art which is meaningful to me and express this through narratives.

Thoughts on Drawing - Kora Kwok

I like drawing a lot because for me, it's a relaxing, almost meditative way to pass the time. When I'm working on a sketch or final drawing, I get lost in my own little bubble for a few hours; time flies, my mind clears, and I just draw.

One thing I particularly love about drawing is how it forces you to notice the details. Duke has a beautiful campus, and drawing different structures/spots on campus really made me look closer at all the little details surrounding that place – the subtle differences in architecture, the walkways, the windows and so forth. I gained a deeper appreciation for the places I drew, and the campus in general as well.

This class was amazing because it helped improve my drawing skills significantly. I'm happy to say I'm much better at drawing from observation now. The only suggestion I can think of is to spend more class time teaching specific drawing techniques. Most of the techniques I learned were from speaking with Bill outside of class, but I think other unexperienced artists in the class like me would have benefited from those learnings as well!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Thoughts on Drawing - Lily Nabet

            When I began selecting classes for my freshman spring, I had never planned on taking a drawing class let alone any art class. At a young age, I began showing interest in art whether it was through photography, drawing, painting, or even making portfolios. I loved the idea of expressing color in art because I truly believed it set the tone for any piece. In 4th grade, I joined an art class outside of school and painted vibrant images of everything I loved; food, animals, sports, and places. I didn’t enjoy art because I was good at it, in fact I wouldn’t even consider myself proficient in drawing, I enjoyed it because it was a way to clear my mind. Back home I would regularly visit different museums around Los Angeles. One of my favorites is LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
            When talking more specifically about drawing, this course has open my eyes to different perspectives that I had never thought about. Prior to taking this class, I was more than excited to get started. I would always find myself drawing in a variety of different places; classrooms, at home, in restaurants, etc. The act of drawing is so beautiful to me because it can be done anywhere and all you essentially need is a platform and color. Drawing has always been a passion of mine, although I found this course very difficult. I found it very challenging to draw buildings, landscapes, and objects. When it came to line work, I spent so much time trying to make lines straight, proportional, and realistic. In addition, shading was a difficult concept to get down and even though we had a few assignments that incorporated shading, I only began to get more frustrated with it as time went on. Most of the time I would start drawing and feel confident and comfortable with my subjects but unfortunately the outcome was never what I wanted.

            I think this class was very frustrating for me because I was constantly comparing my skill with those around me. Some of my classmates would produce drawings that amazed me. As time went on I began to feel more and more embarrassed with myself because I felt as though I wasn’t getting any better. Personally, I think the class moved very fast, especially for someone who hadn’t taken an art class since 4th grade. The assignments took me almost a whole day to finish because I tried to produce the best art I was capable of. My favorite part of the class was the sketchbook. I had no restrictions and no primary audience. I produced sketches of my thoughts, my surrounding, and my interests. Ultimately, this course was a great learning experience for me and allowed me to learn about the different perspectives of drawing.  

Thoughts on Drawing

Should anyone tell you that drawing is easy, do me a favor and slap them in the face.

(I'm joking, of course, and not responsible for any damages suffered as a result of taking the joke too seriously.)

Drawing, like any other creative or non-creative activity, is one that requires a lion's share of time and effort to be any good at it. Want to draw like da Vinci? Yeah? Want to spend hours studying anatomy and lighting; or toiling over the bodies of animals, plants, and people, dissecting them to reveal their inner workings?

No? Oh well....

And yet, the power of drawing is such that after hours of sitting in place, drawing with unsteady hands the environment's myriad features and the figures that, unlike you, refuse to remain still or well-lit, you come away from the experience in good spirits and having learned a great deal - even if that form of drawing isn't quite what you expected.

When I signed up for ARTSVIS199, I hoped to do some cartooning or abstraction. Or at least get practice with foundations (perspective, value, etc.) to inform my comics. See, it's easy to hide one's tendentious grasp of visual art fundamentals behind the limitless possibilities of the comics medium. From its course description, ARTSVIS199 seemed the perfect agent to change that.

So as you can imagine, when I discovered ARTSVIS199 was a life drawing class, I was more than a little disappointed.

At first I toyed with the idea of dropping the class. Spending an entire semester drawing still lifes was not high on that ever-growing list of things to do. In the end, I decided to stay, and was well-rewarded for my efforts, I'd say.

Yeah, the paper was bigger than I'm used to. Yeah, lugging that Bristol board around was a pain in the behind. And yeah, I'm still terrified of charcoal. But 199 taught me that observational drawing is equally useful as, if not more than, drawing from a book; that when in need of inspiration, all you need to do is step outside. You don't need a ruler or an instructor or a textbook (though each is helpful), because the toolkit is in your head. It's empirical.

And although my comics and drawing aren't quite where I want them to be, I'm very glad I took this class.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Thoughts on Drawing - Gaby Bloom

As an Art History major, one of my major requirements was to take a visual arts class—something I was less than thrilled about.  I struggled with which class to take, but ultimately decided on drawing because I liked to doodle and have neat handwriting, so figured there was a possibility that I would unlock some untapped potential. I also was interested in how actually practicing some sort of visual art would enhance my appreciation of it in my studies.  However, as I quickly found out in the beginning of the semester, my artistic abilities are pretty limited. 

Drawing definitely didn’t come easy to me.  I enjoyed the still life drawings a lot, however.  I found that I was much better at drawing still life objects, and found it peaceful and relaxing.   I also enjoyed drawing in my sketchbook—I like to doodle and like drawing with big fluid motion and sketching a bit.  Drawing landscapes, however, was much more challenging.   I realized that it was more and more difficult to make things look realistic and found architectural drawing really tough.  Straight lines and proportions are not easy I have learned! I found it really frustrating that I would spend hours and hours working, to only have a finished product that I deemed merely mediocre.  Some of my drawings I would be pretty proud of until I got to class and we started doing critiques.  I would get to class and immediately realize how much less skilled I was than the rest of the class, and felt shame and embarrassment about my beginner’s work.

Over the course of the semester, I have learned to accept that I am a beginner and in general, not the most talented artist.  I have really enjoyed getting to look at my other classmates’ work and appreciate their talent, and I was able to get over my anxiety of sharing my work with the class.  I have enjoyed parts of this class a lot.  Sitting outside and drawing has been very relaxing, and I liked getting to unplug from my usual schoolwork and do something different for a change.  Overall, I found that I have a new appreciation for drawing, and while I probably won’t do it again, I find that I have learned a lot.