Life Lessons in Graphite

Hannah Park '23

      Sometimes the materials seem foreign in your fingertips. Sometimes what you’re given doesn’t feel like it’s enough to finish the picture. Because when the darkest lines never quite erase and the grey areas smudge, suddenly your edges aren’t as sharp and the purpose of the piece is fading away. That’s when everything turns into a maze of smeared, dingy graphite to get lost in. So sometimes you have to give up and walk away.

      Because by the time you toss your stick of graphite back, wash your hands three times to get all the charcoal off, and the studio door closes behind you with a thud, you know you’ll be back eventually to finish what you’ve started. And I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I go back to look at what I’ve done, I can’t really tell that the artist had no idea what they were doing.

      My art teacher says that light is only defined in relation to the shadows. Your brightest white is only as brilliant as the darkest smear of charcoal you make on the heavy paper. And when you know the guidelines and you’ve learned the theory, you feel like the strokes should come easier.