College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Luck of the Draw: UM Art Majors Offer a Glimpse into their Creative Lives

Across the syllabus for Christine Conley’s Art 111 class reads a quote from Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t — you’re right.”

This attitude seems to reflect Conley’s in-class experience. She said doesn’t believe anyone is born with an outstanding talent for drawing, but that it is a learned skill, requiring discipline and close examination.

However, Conley understands why some students may be intimidated by the course. “Drawing is one of the hardest and most time-consuming classes within the art department,” she said.

However, she said she believes anyone can do well in the class, provided they’re willing to work and make a time commitment.

Anna Woodyard, a sophomore art student, is finishing her semester in Art 111. She said she knew the course would be difficult because of the things she heard about the time commitment from previous students and teachers.

Woodyard said her syllabus cites three hours as the minimum amount of time that should be spent working on a homework project.

“It has taken me 15 hours before,” she said. “I am just not good at time management and I want it to look good. I am also not as familiar with the materials as I would like to be. Just working with charcoal if you haven’t before can take time.”

In comparison to the time she spends on her other classes, she spends a good majority of homework time on art. “Art is very important to me. I should be working more on other classes too, but I care about how my art looks,” Woodyard said.

Conley said there are always a few students who drop the class because they don’t understand the workload.

“For those who aren’t familiar with the art department, they say ‘Oh gosh, that’s awful,’ but others say, ‘Oh that sounds like so much more fun than writing a paper,’ and I agree with that,” Woodyard said.

Conley said the class is split between students who have had art experience and those who haven’t had a class since childhood. Top achievers are eventually split between those two groups which Conley said she believes is a direct result of desire and perseverance. She added the students who make it in her class continue to practice because they enjoy it. The majority of the class is based on still life instead of abstract art that is craftier in nature, she said.

Sarah Denney, Woodyard’s roommate, said she sees how much time it takes her friend to work on projects and that art classes are not an easy ‘A.’

“Just like any other major, you have to work long enough to acquire the skill,” Denney said.

Denney added that art students should be taken as seriously as any other student. “Not only is it not a ‘soft’ major but it is a huge commitment, both financially and time-wise,” Denney said. “I think that is something to be respected.

Article originally published in the Daily Mississippian, by Anna Schuster