How Art 100 Made Me a Better Rower


I’ve been trying to take an art class since freshman year of college and am finishing up my final weeks of Art 100 right now in my final semester of college.


This is a rowing blog Maddie (I’m sure you’re asking yourself). Wtf does art have to do with rowing?? A lot, ok? It has a lot to do with it.

I like to think I’m a pretty artistic/creative person. Before you think I’m narcissistic or self-promotional I have to add that I couldn’t draw or paint for sh*t before this semester. Straight up. It was one of those things that I tried when I was little, decided I was never going to be great at and never seriously attempted again.

When I started rowing I thought the same thing. I wasn’t the best in the forest of  100 walk-ons. I knew my technique was garbage and did I think about quitting? Yes. I did. I’ve spent 4 years and countless hours in pursuit of rowing and when I walked into my art class I brought the lessons I learned from sports to this new challenge.

I wanted to be immediately great at drawing and I wasn’t–Shocking. I did the daily assignments–Revolutionary. The more I drew, the less awful it looked–Mind-blowing. Call me a try hard, but I was taking time to do the work and seeing progress.

This is why coaches will tell rowers to do more steady state or go in the tank and take a couple hundred strokes. It’s impossible to make progress by wishing for it. The only way to get better at something is to do it! (TedTalk material right hurr). 

The real turning point for me in this incredibly groundbreaking journey was when I stopped being afraid of making bad art. I started looking at something that I had put my time into, realizing that it was ugly af and moving on without being bummed because I knew it was nbd. The more things I drew, the higher likelihood there was that ONE of them wasn’t a hot mess.

I realized that I do this every time I row. If I have a bad stroke, bad practice, bad erg test I can assess what went wrong and tweak how I approach the next task to be more successful in the future. THIS IS LIFE CHANGING STUFF PEOPLE.

The last step in my journey was getting to know my TA and realizing that even though she is an awesome and talented artist, she is still striving to try new things and improve her craft. Art is constantly pushing itself to evolve. If you keep doing the same thing and stay where you’re comfortable your art will fall flat.

If you can’t figure out how that’s rowing related I would be stunned, but let me capitalize on my point. Art has made me a better rower by reminding me that I’ve come a long way since I started rowing. It’s reminded me that progress happens when effort meets time. Most importantly in this stage of my life, it’s reminded me that I will never be perfect. There is always room to grow, and that’s what’s so great about rowing and art (and life too).



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