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Kaitlin Kelsch

ART 1020 Reflection Paper

In Fall Semester of 2017 I took my first drawing class. I had always been interested in

drawing as a hobby and as a way to express myself creatively but I didnt really know where to

begin and it just seemed like I would never have enough time to sit down and teach myself how

to do it. Luckily, though, I didnt need to. When my sister suggested that we take a drawing

class at SLCC to hang out together, I admit I was hesitant, at first, but, eventually I warmed up to

it quite a bit. I made a great deal of friends, my sister and I were able to bond, and the way that

the professor was able to engage us with the material really helped me to spark my creativity.

Most of all, it showed me that drawing skills can be learned by anyone and that you dont

necessarily have to be the next Van Gogh or Rembrandt in order to begin. All you have to have

in order to be successful in art is patience and a willingness to improve your skills.

First off, this class helped me to realize that there are a lot more elements that go into a

drawing than most people think that there are - elements like line, form, value, and space. You

could just draw without any knowledge of these elements, at all, but not everyone is guaranteed

to be a drawing savant nor will you have knowledge of the basic tools that allow you to turn

mediocre drawing into something great.

Its kind of like the difference between making a silly home movie with your friends and

making an Oscar-worthy, cinematic masterpiece. Theres nothing inherently wrong with making

home movies. Theyre fun, theyre a way that you can goof off and relax from all the daily

struggles of the world, and there are a lot of good and long-lasting memories that can be created.

You might even enjoy the process of making these movies so much that it inspires you to pursue

filmmaking as a career. However, if moviemaking is the reason you get up in the morning and
you know that its your destiny to create a timeless and thought-provoking film, its safe to say

that youll do almost everything in your power to achieve a total mastery of the art form. Youll

stay in school as long as possible, youll practice every day, and youll take a variety of jobs and

internships to gain the experience necessary, all of which increase the odds of you being

successful in the professional moviemaking world.

The end result of your work, therefore, depends on the level of dedication you can put

towards it. Plenty of people see drawing as just a hobby or something fun to do and kudos to

them. Whether they realize it or not, theyre dipping their toes into a highly satisfying and

rewarding art form. But if you really want elevate your craft, if you really want to take your

talent to the next level, the means to your success will be to never stop learning and practice,

practice, practice!

But even if you do view art as just a hobby, there are a great deal of benefits that one can

derive from drawing. I know that for myself that drawing can be pretty meditative. It not only

allows me to represent my feelings on the page but it serves as a quiet time in the middle of the

week where I can put aside my worries and work on something thats just for me. I cant really

describe it, but its like everything else in the world fades away except for what Im working on.

In a world where we are becoming angrier and more divided than ever before, perhaps art should

promoted as a stress-relieving activity. Just the fact that it teaches children to expand their

imagination alone should be enough to keep it as part of the curriculum in schools.

Art also teaches you solve problems and to let go of perfection. When our professor

announced that the two weekly sketches that we required to do at home could only be completed

with a pen, I was terrified that my work wouldnt be nearly as good as if I were told to use a

pencil. I clung onto the idea that my drawing had to be impeccable and I liked having the
freedom to erase whenever I wanted. But as I soon found out, drawing with a pen encouraged

me to try to get the strokes right the first time and helped me to realize that my mistakes really

werent all that bad. In fact, it taught me to work around my mistakes in a way that still

produced a good final product, referred to as restating in Bert Dodsons book Keys to Drawing.

Now drawing in pen has become my favorite art medium to use. Pen strokes glide more

smoothly across the page than pencil strokes, in my opinion, and I like how the right kind of pen

can allow you create different and dynamic textures. Theres a sort of complex simplicity that

can be found in pen drawings and they give me a great sense of inner fulfillment.

Furthermore, this class also taught me to let go of perfection because there would be

deadlines that we had to get our drawings done by. I admit that there were days when I struggled

and it seemed like I couldnt create anything good, but then there were other days in which the

limited amount of time to complete the task helped me to prioritize which aspects of the painting

to do first. In other words, this prioritization helped me to work both fast and accurately.

There were also times in class where we would share what we had created with the rest of

our classmates. The teacher would analyze the paintings, gives his own personal feedback, and

then ask us for our own thoughts and opinions. It made it impossible to hide any of the faults in

our drawing but at the same time it felt pretty liberating to know that all of us struggled in our

own, individual ways. If I didnt completely finish a drawing or it didnt turn out quite as good

as what I had envisioned in my head, then too bad. Since there wasnt anything that I could

actually do about it, I learned pretty quickly to just let it go, take what I needed to learn, and

make a promise to myself that I would do better the next time around.

Actually, in all seriousness, I didnt do as bad as I thought. I have taken different art

classes before in Junior High and High School but I always thought the work I produced was
awful and that I just didnt have the talent to master the basics - let alone make art a possible

career. And while I still dont think that Ill add art to my possible list of career choices, I am

really glad that this class showed me the potential I could have with the subject and that I got to

see myself improve week after week. If I had to describe my drawing style by comparing it to a

few artists, I would probably say that its a mix between Albrect Durer and Alan Cober. Im not

nearly any as good as those amazing artists, but I can draw contours with a fair amount of detail

the same Alan Cober and the thick, stylized, and linear lines of Durers etchings fit perfectly

alongside my own.

I also like the artwork of Brad Holland and Dilleen Marsh. We didnt work with color

mediums at all in the class since it wouldve been much too complicated for us to handle, but I

feel like if I did explore color drawing, my style would match up quite similarly to theirs. I love

how Brad Hollands paintings have a surreal, almost creepy vibe to them and always feel like

theyre part of a dream. With Dilleen Marsh, Im impressed how well the colors work together

to represent reality despite the fact that sometimes they can look rather blocky.

Some of the artists that I admired before this class were Claude Monet, Leonardo Da

Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, and Degas. Impressionism, hands down, has to be my favorite art

genre out of all the others because I like how masterfully the light is scattered throughout the

painting. Its almost like youre looking at reflection in the water as ripples come by and distort

the image, somewhat. It all feels very airy and dreamy and, thus, I have a big admiration for

them. Maybe if I work hard enough I can become as great as them? Im not sure, its tough to

say. All I know is that Im going to try my best and Im going to blast while doing it.

The concepts that were taught to us in class that I thought I did well at include measuring

techniques and composition. The measuring techniques were extremely useful to me because
they helped to prevent my drawings from becoming squished and distorted (especially the

finding the midpoint technique which was described in Keys to Drawing) and the unit on

composition was enlightening because it taught me that not every subject has to be centered in

the middle of the page. Sometimes if you find an interesting angle or part of your subject that

you wanted to draw or if you simply placed your subject near one of the four edges of the page it

would be enough to create a visually-interesting piece. I still have to remind myself, sometimes,

that I dont always need to choose a reference photo with the subject in the middle but overall, I

think the unit ended up teaching me to think outside the conventions that society often takes for

granted. Art is SUPPOSED to be creative, for heavens sakes! Knowing how to perfectly render

something from real life is still important and should not be undervalued but it is the people who

look at an object in an unconventional way and are able to imbed their own, unique point of view

onto the page who are going to succeed at art the most.

I also really enjoyed the unit on figure drawing even though it was rather challenging for

me. I admit that I primarily joined the class hoping that it would help me to draw better

landscapes and objects but once we reached the assignment where we had to gesture-draw

different figures in two minutes or less, I became hooked. I also really enjoyed what we learned

about mannequinization (taking a figure and breaking it down into its basic parts) as that was a

real eureka moment for me. I feel like it helped me to get a better grasp on human anatomy and

it was interesting to me to learn how the different body parts of a human being fit together like a

puzzle. I also think I did some of my best and most creative drawings during that unit so in the

future figure drawings will become a priority, for sure.

Finally, I learned a great deal about what it means to draw convincing textures. Towards

the beginning of the semester I drew a drawing of my dog using a reference photo and for the life
of me, I could not get the lines in her fur down. They just didnt seem to match what was

occurring in real life and, as a result, I was frustrated. However, when I spoke to my professor

about it, he suggested that I try to find shapes in the fur and pay more attention to the direction

that the lines were going in. Combined with the repeat and vary technique in Keys to Drawing,

in which Bert Dodson describes how one should look for common patterns in a texture but vary

the pen strokes at same time, I then was able to use these two techniques to create a pretty

compelling drawing of a panda, later on - one of the best drawings I did the class, if I do say so

myself.

However, its important to note that I wasnt successful at everything. If there is one

aspect of the class that I think I could definitely improve upon, it would be shading. I understood

it, for most the part, as we were practicing shading techniques on spheres and cubes, but when it

comes to shading any other object I have a difficult time making it look natural and not like a

bunch of tacked-on shapes. I think a major solution to this problem would be to really study the

subject and break down its shading into the simplest terms. I need to get better at creating soft

edges between the different regions and an general awareness of how the different parts of a

drawing look compared to the whole should help me to succeed, as well.

Also, although this isnt a concept per se, while it was true that rubbing my canvas down

with a layer of charcoal beforehand and erasing out the highlights helped in my shading

considerably, I just didnt like how messy charcoal could get. It stained my clothes (and once

even the carpet of my living room), it dirtied up my art supplies and the feel of it on my hands

just felt really weird and foreign to me. I understand the potential benefits that using charcoal

can bring to your drawing, but I just didnt gravitate to it as much as I did the other art mediums

we learned about. In the future, I dont think Ill use it quite as often as I will use pen or pencil.
Overall, I feel as if this was a really good class for me to take. I feel like Ive grown a lot

compared to the beginning of the semester and I enjoyed how friendly and amiable our professor

was. I also like how he didnt push us to do anything artistically until we were ready to. In fact,

sometimes, he let us do things that were beyond the scope of a typical ART 1020 class. We were

still beginners, thought, dont get me wrong. Even though we did have a ton of talented people

in the class no one person was so good that they blew the rest of us out the water. However, the

professor was so impressed with our collective talent and cared so much about the direction that

the class was going that he would often let us take an active role in kinds of projects we wanted

to do. It kept the class from becoming boring and monotonous and, in my minds eye, it

maximized every penny of my money.

The class also helped me to appreciate the importance of art not just on an intellectual

level but on an emotional level, as well. Ill use the example used in Good Will Hunting to

explain what it is that I mean. In the movie, Robin Williams character explains to Matt

Damons character that although you could learn everything about the Sistine Chapel its

architecture, the artwork painted on the ceilings, what specific ceremonies are performed there,

the history of everything that the chapels been through and yet if you dont go and visit the

Sistine Chapel itself, youll be missing out on a significant portion of what the Sistine chapel is

and what it means to other people. In short, you cant really understand the entirety what

somethings about until you experience that thing for yourself.

All my life Ive had a great appreciation for art and knew about its importance. I knew

that art allowed us to communicate across time and space, I knew that art could be used as a

vehicle for important messages, and I knew that it was an extension of human ingenuity and a

reminder of all the beautiful things of this world. But I never really got art until I took this
class. Only then was I able to see skill and technique that goes into every single drawing. Only

then was I able to see how art could personally connect to my own life. Only then could I really

appreciate how important it is for everyday people to learn about art and actually use it on a daily

basis. Without this class, for which I am very grateful, I feel as if I wouldve gone my whole life

thinking about art from a single, narrow-minded viewpoint. With the well-rounded perspective I

now have I feel as though Ive finally woken up.