As students hunker down at home to finish up the semester through remote classes, student artists are finding some refuge through painting.
Honors III Art students recently put the finishing touches on their self-portraits, painted with oil paints on wood.
"The assignment required students to compose or infuse other components," explained Visual Arts Department Chair David Sigel, Hon. "This was not just a self-portrait through a likeness, but through symbolic characteristics that helped the viewer see beyond the face mask."
"My portrait is set in my house," explained Molly Limaye '21. "Although we had some guidelines, Mr. Sigel also gave us a lot of freedom to choose our photo, and I honestly spent weeks trying to decide what I wanted to do. I ultimately chose to take a photo in front of the stained glass window in my house because I loved the way the colors reflected on my face, and I wanted to try to capture that with paint."
"The setting for my portrait is in my kitchen because I spend most of my time there and because I love looking out at my garden and seeing all the wonderful flowers," said Will Sargent '22. "I do find that, although the setting I chose was not initially selected with the quarantine in mind, the composition has grown to encapsulate my feelings of isolation as I now spend more of my time then ever in that same spot."
Students started working on the portraits in the fall. "We have been modeling a true artist studio by having several projects going at once," shared Mr. Sigel. "To shift focus and to refresh is always a good way to get the best out of a long-term assignment and give practice skills that can be applied in the further development of ones' work."
"Everyone in my class was so meticulous, and the canvases are either two-feet by two-feet or two-feet by three-feet, so they are quite big," said Molly. "Most students finished back in February, and we did move on to other projects, but I decided to bring mine home to work on it over Spring Break. I'm still not completely finished because, as Mr. Sigel says, 'art is never finished,' and I always see more aspects of my painting that I want to work on."
"I think that working on this painting has not only taught me about myself and the way I think, but it has also been a chance for me to really refine my art style," commented Will. "I had never painted a portrait of a person before, so almost every aspect of this project was a brand new experience for me, and I grew so much in my understanding of color and form from the beginning of the year."
"This ended up being a real long-term project with several students packing up their paints, brushes, and canvases to take home when our campus closed," said Mr. Sigel. "It shows their investment and desire to go beyond a deadline or the 'ask' of the assignment."
"Art has definitely been a large part of my life during the quarantine.," said Will. "I feel like it is often very easy in isolation to lose perspective and to begin wasting your life away, but art gives a chance to be active and creative and fully present in the moment."
"Art has absolutely helped me through these challenging times. It has been really nice to have long stretches of uninterrupted time to paint, especially during such confusing and stressful times," reflected Molly. "Like many students in the world, I am very sad to be missing so many parts of my junior year. However, it has been really nice to focus on my painting or other art projects. The quarantine can feel quite monotonous and boring, so giving myself opportunities to be creative has been really beneficial for getting through these challenging times."
With several weeks of school remaining, students are eagerly moving on to their next assignment.
"We are doing a postcard-making project, where we each draw a design on a postcard in black and white and send it to a classmate so they can color it in," said Molly. "It was William Sargent and Raeleen Keffer-Scharpf's idea, and it's a great way to spread positivity in such a challenging time."