Drawing from Life: it’s my fourth studio class this semester. My “elective,” even though I have to take another studio class. So far, so good in the course. We’ve met three times and the professor seems very nice and I think she loves what she does, so that’s always a plus. The class is going to be a very conseptual one, where we have a lot of control over what the projects are about, and total control over how they look in the end. We have the freedom of working realistically or abstractly or a little bit of both. We so far have had a variety of mediums and paper sizes available to us. This studio is the first that I have taken that is about the piece of work more than the technique.
For our first assignment we had to deal with place. Any place. We were encouraged to find a place that we are familiar with and find something new about it by looking at it in a new way. I choose to make this piece about my new dorm room, because it was a place that was certainly familiar to me, seeing as I had been living in it for a week when I began this drawing, but at the same time the room was new to me. (Relatively speaking.) I spent some time sketching and getting to know my new dorm. And I started to think about how all of the stuff in the room belonged to me, but the room itself belonged to the school, and would never be mine no matter how many memories I made in it and no matter how much stuff I filled it with. The room became impermanent and so I wanted to depict this impermanence within a moment where my presence was still felt in the space.
The space of my room is dominated and illuminated by a giant window, which light flows in at most hours of the day. In the early morning it casts great shadows on all of my stuff and on the wall and the room breaths the light. I started sketching shadow maps of the way the light fell in the room. This is how I decided to use shadow to describe myself and my possessions in the room. I used the shadows, and described the shadows, but choose not to describe my things at all. I looked through my possessions and drew only the impression that they left on the space.
Originally, because the space itself is so bright and colorful and cheerful with all of my things in it, I thought that the drawing would come out cheerful as well. I planned for a soft sunlit glow and a certain delicacy to the piece. But as I was drawing on this 22×30″ of paper, removing all of my objects–all of myself from the room began to make the piece feel different. It felt lonely, and cold and distorted. And this unexpected direction was uncomfortable to me. I struggled for a while trying to let the drawing take me in the direction that it wanted to go, but it was hard to swallow this new, gloomier perspective on my living space. I found that once I removed all of my precious and dear items, the room became soulless and the bare walls and old fixtures jumped out. The age of the room was now apparent, and the fact that the school did not much care for it. These rooms all belong to the school but the students are what bring the rooms to life. Without my things to populate the space, the room was dead. This feeling certainly affected the way that I crafted this drawing. I found myself distorting things and not drawing from what I saw, but how I felt about the space. However, I still wanted to keep a sense of depth and perspective, but I made no efforts to make these things perfect now that the room had become to ghostly. The shadowy impressions that I looked through my objects to see, are like ghosts in the room. They haunt the space, but they do not own the space. Their shadows are not enough to transform the space from the cold dreary dorm into a lively bedroom.
I find it interesting the kinds of marks that shadows leave on an environment. They are very much like ghosts. They are constantly changing and moving with the light, yet they have so much personality to them and they do so much to describe an environment. I’m going to go forward with this idea of shadows leaving descriptive marks. I plan to do a series of simple drawings based on expressive shadows that describe a place.