By Maureen Ragner
Art is something that can be incredibly expressive. It can tell stories without having to say words, or show someone’s perspective on any subject. It can also show what has influenced the artist.
On April 20, seniors Jacob Walter, Kylie Ternes, Allison Norton and Tanya Sherrard showcased their capstone projects in the second senior art show of the month. Each project was unique to the senior and showed where their interests were potentially going to take them in the future.
Walter’s works of art were landscapes painted with watercolors. His work took up multiple canvases per painting, making his the largest works that were on display.
His art focused on nature and what can be found outdoors. This reflected his love of nature as a result of his pastimes, which include camping and hiking. His father helped to influence Walter’s career choice, as well, as he is an artist himself.
“He would always paint landscapes of where we lived,” said Walter.
Because they moved often, Walter was able to see a lot of the country and grow up with his father’s art as a result. This, and the books on art history that his father owns, helped to influence Walter to take up painting himself.
His choice of medium for his artwork, watercolors, is a unique choice given that most artists don’t choose that particular medium. The way the color ran made it difficult to work with at first, as Walter had a specific idea for his paintings. As a result, he focused on how he was painting in the beginning, but he learned how to work with the medium after some experimentation.
Walter decided to make the paintings similar to a sketch book and make it similar to something a person might find among the belongings of a pioneer traveling across the United States. He also wanted to bring as much awe to the viewer as possible.
“I chose to make them as close to life-size as possible,” said Walter. “Almost imposing.”
After graduation, Walter plans to work in a museum close to his home for a year before going to graduate school to learn more about museum work, so that he can put his art history and history minors to work. He may continue to paint, but not to the scale that he did for his final art show.
The second of the four seniors, Ternes, was the only one in the presentation whose creation was digital art. While art had been a part of her life, until she arrived on Bethany’s campus, her initial plan for her future had been something entirely different than it is now.
“My plan originally was to become a meteorologist,” said Ternes.
After being introduced to graphic arts, she switched her major to studio arts, with a focus in graphic design. When it came to creating her senior project, however, she was a little stumped as to what to create. Drawing from her pool of creativity and her love of reading, she decided to mix the two and create a children’s book about art.
“It’s a book that’s meant to teach children how to mix colors,” said Ternes.
The two characters in her children’s book, Arthur and Connie, are reminiscent of her experiences as an art student. Arthur, being the artist, is a combination of her teachers, and Connie, the little girl who is the main character, is a basic form of what art students are like in the beginning—naive, but eager to learn more. She chose a forest for the setting of her book because most colors that exist can be found there at any time of the year.
The illustrations, while digital, mimicked the watercolor medium that Walter used in his own works. Most of her work was done in an art program called Corel Painter, and she touched the images up in Adobe Photoshop before combining them with text in the Adobe InDesign program.
Ternes hopes to get the book published someday, perhaps after some more work, and she plans to get a job as a graphic artist after she graduates.
The third presenting senior of the night, Norton, hails from Alaska, and her art project reflects that. Like Walter, she chose to create landscapes of memories of her home, but they are painted with oil paints. Having been influenced by classic artists after a Bethany-sponsored art trip to Italy and the art classes she has been able to take, Norton took up oil painting and decided to put her love of the medium and her influence from famous classic artists to good use.
“I wanted to share my home and my memories,” said Norton.
Her art communicates her vision of Alaska—its beauty, timelessness and the fact that Alaska isn’t trapped in winter’s icy grip for the entire year. Forests, mountains and lakes all make an appearance in her art, painted in bright color palettes creating a sense of awe in the viewer. The colors Norton chose are admittedly brighter than the actual colors that make up the Alaskan landscape, but there is still a great sense of realism to the paintings.
“I just picked pictures and landmarks that felt more sentimental to me,” said Norton.
Norton hopes to create a winter series of Alaska one day.
The last presenter of the night, Sherrard, focused on two different kinds of art mediums, dogs and their personalities. Having gotten her hands dirty in both oil paints and ceramics, she was able to show her love for the subject clearly.
Sherrard’s ceramics all showed dogs sleeping in the same way, but she made the sculptures to look like different breeds of dog. In this way, she meant to show that all dogs were the same, despite what they looked like. The process for creating the sculptures varied according to what she was trying to accomplish with the color and size of the dog, and she had to fire the sculptures anywhere from over a few days to a few weeks in order to get the results she was looking for.
Sherrard’s oil paintings took dogs in a different direction entirely. Each painting has a different structure than the others, with different colors, shapes and textures that make them all the more interesting to look at. Some of the paintings have many layers of her work. When she didn’t like how they were turning out, she would reuse the canvas.
Besides being influenced by her love of animals, Sherrard has been immersed in art since she was young. Having been adopted from Kazakhstan, when she was learning English she drew what she wanted in a Crayola coloring book if she didn’t know the word she was looking for. Her siblings, an older and younger brother and two younger sisters, influenced her art as well. While her brothers liked to experiment with creating “potions” out of things they found around the house, her sisters gave her ideas of what to draw or had drawing contests with her. However, Sherrard never considered herself an artist until her senior year of high school, when she made friends with fellow students who liked art and pulled her into it as well.
After graduating from Bethany with a studio art major, Sherrard plans to continue painting animals.
Art can be incredibly expressive and say a lot about a person, including their history, likes and dislikes. These seniors bared their hearts through their art projects and plan to continue to do so in the future.