My Complicated Relationship With Drawing

Hello family and friends!

I have always loved art (thanks, Dad!) and I have always taken an art class. Last semester was the first time that I wasn’t in an art class. So, I was super excited about my course “Introduction to Studio Art.” However, while I was excited about being able to create art again, I was worried that “studio art” meant drawing.

All throughout high school, I told myself that I couldn’t draw and drawing would never be my thing. I dabbled in it here and there but was never pleased with my results. So, I never drew because I convinced myself that I couldn’t, that I didn’t have the ability to draw. I had a fixed mindset about drawing. I believed that I would always suck at drawing and so I never did anything to improve myself.

So naturally, I was worried about how my college course was going to be. I walked into class with my drawing pad and drawing materials and sat a table. We were handed the syllabus and I soon found out that we would be making 25 self-portraits.

25. self. portraits.

Our first homework assignment was to do one self-portrait that was only ten inches, and we had to use a mirror.

I spent about 2 hours on this assignment and was pretty happy with the end result. A few things that I learned from this first assignment:

  1. Hair shouldn’t all be the same value
  2. Shading makes everything better
  3. Drawing isn’t as bad as I thought it to be

Another media that we had to use was ink. Overall, I’m not too fond of ink because I don’t like how you can’t erase your mistakes. However, I do like how abstract ink looks. I like how the drawing looks because it’s not realistic, but you can still tell that it’s me.

Here’s an example of a five-minute sketch that we did in class:

The most recent media that we did in class was charcoal. I was excited about this media because charcoal is easy to blend, erase, and it allows you to add more values. The first self-portrait isn’t perfect, but I wanted to try to draw a smile.

A few things that I learned from this assignment:

  1. Having more values makes the drawing more interesting.
  2. Mapping out facial proportions is difficult, but important.
  3. Charcoal gets everywhere!
  4. Hair looks more realistic when it has more values and direction.

In my second charcoal self-portrait, we used a technique called reductive drawing. This means that we had to start with an almost black background, created by using charcoal. And from that, we had to outline the face using an eraser. Essentially, we did the shading process backward. We started with the darkest values and had to erase to make lighter values.

And here’s a list of what I learned from my most recent charcoal drawing:

  1. Mapping out proportions is important, and is worth the time that it takes.
  2. I draw myself backward because I look in a mirror.
  3. Negative space matters.
  4. I’m improving.

What I have learned through this course is that fixed mindsets are powerful. I always told myself that I couldn’t draw, and I never tried. While I will never be an expert at drawing, I have learned to appreciate drawing and what it takes to make one. So far, this course has allowed me to develop a love for drawing.

Don’t knock it till you try it!

Thanks for reading!