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When Nell announced that we would be drawing portraits of ourselves I almost had a heart attack! Besides the fact that I had never looked at myself for more than a few minutes, I did not think I had the skills to draw any live object- especially not myself. Nell seemed confident in our ability to complete the assignment as intsructed but I was not as certain. The instructions alone made me realise that I would need divine grace and a different mindset to effectively start and complete the assignment.

We were instructed to grind a piece of black chalk on a square palette and apply the powder residue on an A2 white piece of paper using tissue paper until the A2 paper is completely covered by black powder. To draw the self portrait we would have to use a malleable eraser and if a mistake occurs, one would have to use the tissue paper to reapply the powder chalk. We were warned that we would be spending a lot of time on this assignment but I would never have guessed the true meaning of this until I started.

After spending 3 hours on the nose alone, the reality of the time consuming nature of the project started setting in. I would often find myself trying to reconcile what I know my face looked like to what I was actually looking at in the mirror. I thought I knew what I looked like until I started drawing. My main problem was trying to show colour in ‘black and white’, value judgement is definately not easy especially when trying to figure out how dark or light brown should be in a black and white portrait. Every time I found myself confused or frustrated Nell’s words would begin ringing in my brain ‘Draw what you see not what you think you see’. After a while I began doing just as she advised. I started drawing what I saw…in the hope that I was seeing correctly!

When we were first assigned this project, I was very excited as I had so many ideas racing through my mind I could not wait to start.  We were instructed to take a ride on the Marta iether to a particular destination or just from one station to another and use our camera/drawing skills to create a catalog of the trips, Although my initial idea was to capture the different bags that people who rode the Marta carried, due to the unforseen discofort of the bag owners I had to change my topic to floors,ceilings and walls. After stopping at a few places I began noticing the many different floors, walls and ceilings that I had not noticed before while riding the Marta. This experience really made me wonder how much I actually see when travelling, like how many things does my brain actually ignore or not take note of …

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When asked to create a fantastical or realist animal with 3D elements of 3 dimensional form no less than one inch and no bigger than 8 inches,three ideas came to mind: a fly, an and a turtle. I made sketches of all three and decided to start with the turtle as this, I assumed would be less complex. Little did I know that it would take me more than a total of 8 hours to finish it.

When we were given the materials we could work with, namely wire, sculpey,glue and any other object we could find, I felt overwhelmed by the lack of constraints so I gravitated to the pliable wire because that’s what I was familiar with. In deciding how to design my turtle I pinpointed two features that strike me in a turtle: its hard shell and short neck. The shell I wanted to replicate but since childhood I have always thought there must be more of the neck stuch in the shell so I decided to turn the small head into a snake’s head, hence snurtle.  

The third assinment was completely out of my comfort zone. The idea of drawing without looking at my paper was not only foreign to me but it also made me feel like I was sailing without a rudder or travelling without a map…terrifying!

While blind contour drawing is helpful with developing hand eye coordination, I found it suprisingly relaxing and quite revealing of my nature. I discovered just how detail oriented I am (shown by the hand detail of  my first attempt). I tried to follow one line and steadily drew my first two fingers until I lost focus.

I also discovered how quickly my mind tends to wander off my subject if I do not concentrate long enough. My concentration is generally shown by the detail oriented portion of the drawing and the less detailed portions convey the point where my mind began wondering off.

I also discovered that I am most comfortable with drawing with pencil or colored pencil than with the marker that was provided. My level of confidence declined when using the marker because I became less sure about trusting my hand to portray that which my eye was seeing. The end result, which looks more like a claw than a hand, is a good representation of my feelings while drawing with the marker. I felt constricted, afraid to be free and just relax.

It was not until I decided to just ‘let loose’ that I started enjoying the process. In the end I really enjoyed it, it was quite calming. I felt so relaxed in the end that when we were instructed to draw a still life of various objects, my paper reflected a series of free flowing lines that did not look like the still life at all. However, it is the process that I think matters.

Unlike the first assignment, I was a bit more optimistic about my second assignment until I discovered we had to use a string to help us with the proportions. Having used a pencil for proportions in my first assignment, I was quite apprehensive about the string technique.  Mikaela (our TA) did a commendable job in helping me understand this technique  but it was not until I let go of my fears that my drawing began to even slightly resemble a chair.

 After 30 minutes of looking, deciding my unit of measure and being completely overwhelmed by the project at hand,  I drew a few lines and took  break. A day later, I came back with a fresh pair of eyes and embarked on my journey of artistic discovery with a little more confidence than before. I began drawing the top part of the chair and used it as a unit of measure to draw the rest of the chair. Drawing the length of the chair before everything else especially helped me with measuring out the size of the negative spaces between the rungs as well as ensuring the correct proportion of the different parts of the chair.

It was only after about two and a half hours that I felt confident enough to make my lines more visible. After a total of about four hours, my drawing began looking like the chair on display (without the bottom rungs). I felt quite accomplished until  I had to draw the bottom rungs of the chair. This is the part of the assignment that really tested my patience. I spent about 45 minutes just attempting to get the proper angles and proportion, after a while I just left and came back a few hours later to complete my project. I am quite relieved and proud of the result, I don’t think the hours I put in it were a waste of time at all. Hope prevails.

The first assignment was extremely daunting to me. I took this art course seeking to find a different perspective through art and now found myself   with the daunting task of drawing  a chair with no further instructions. As an Economics and Organisational Management major, very little of what I have studied thus far involves much creativity so I felt very nervous about drawing without any instructions. I have never really taken a serious art class before and so I did not know what to expect from myself but after my first assignment I know there is hope.

I approach everything I do as a challenge and an opportunity to learn more about myself and excel at being me. My first assignment embodies just that. All my nerves, apprehensions and frustrations are all embodied in the ‘invisible chair. More than anything, I think this chair represents my fear and nervousness about what the end product would look like. I drew the chair  with a very light pencil in the hope that my mistakes would not be prominently featured. In retrospect its my insecurities that are featured but I am determined to overcome.

 I was slightly thrust outside my comfort zone and was afraid at what my hands would create but I am surprisingly, quite pleased by the results. All hope is not lost!

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