“[Honors art] forces you to work like an actual artist,” says senior Stewart Hammond, “as if you were in a career developing sceneries and creating your own story behind it.”
As Lovett shifts to online learning, honors art is calling upon its students not only to create our own artwork but also our space for creating it. There is a new level of independence in this already student-driven course, and class time looks completely different from how it has ever looked before.
“You have to have a lot of faith in your students that they can bring it together,” says Amy Story, who teaches honors art for students focused in painting and 2D art. Now that she can’t work with her students in-person, the scheduled class time has become a place for conversation rather than a workshop period. We upload pictures of our artwork to a Google Slides presentation where we discuss our pieces with one another. Then, outside of class, we are expected to take the time to work on our pieces. (We create twelve in all over the course of the school year.)
“Although I’m motivated to paint at home because I don’t have anything else to do,” admits senior Margaret Lindsay, “the allotted time at school helps me get focused and really hone in on whatever I’m doing.”
Margaret’s series is centered around the theme of indulgences, with individual pieces representing everything from money to food to drugs. She used photography, spray paint, and other mixed media to achieve unique shapes and textures. One of the hardest aspects of working at home is that she no longer has access to Lovett’s great collection of art supplies, including a high-grade color printer, and lots and lots of paint.
The lack of supplies has been challenging for me, as well. I joined honors art this semester with the idea that each work of my series could be made out of a different medium. So far, I have tried everything from watercolor and pastels to intaglio printmaking, which requires a special printing press that is pretty uncommon for most schools to have. And it’s definitely not something that I have sitting in the corner of my bedroom.
The day after it was announced that school would be shutting down for at least two weeks, art students were all allowed to raid the art room for supplies like paints and brushes to work with at home. Despite this, many of us are already running low on supplies.
“I took home a lot of the colors that I needed, but I wish I grabbed more, honestly,” says senior Mackenzie Boden. She didn’t realize just how much paint and how many colors she really uses to create her space exploration-themed works.
Nonetheless, Mackenzie has enjoyed the fact that she is not as time-restricted when working at home. Rather than having to stop in the middle of her work to get to her next class, she says, “I like to sit down and get the piece done in one sitting.”
Senior Camille Lewis also enjoys the artistic freedom she has at home. “I would say I have a little more room for creativity when I am at home. I have flexibility of where I get to paint, and I can work outside, which I have really enjoyed.”
When it comes to AP testing, however, the seniors don’t have the same flexibility.Although honors art is not an AP class, students who plan to finish the year-long course in the spring have the opportunity to submit their work to the College Board for the chance to get college credit. Usually, the test consists of twelve works submitted digitally and five works submitted by mail to be judged in person. However, with everything changing due to coronavirus, these requirements have been altered to allow more students to successfully finish their series.
“I’m really happy about it because I was behind in the first place,” says Stewart. He recently shifted his theme from a dystopian society to “an exploration of the human experience and emotions through the characterization of mystical beings.”
He has also transitioned mediums from a focus in digital artwork to pencil, although he will likely incorporate both mediums in his final portfolio. Now that he is no longer “consumed by extracurriculars,” he has some spare time to develop his characters and put them onto paper. Not to mention the fact that he also has more time to think through the stories he wants to tell.
Many people may not realize just how much time, thought, and creativity go into every piece of artwork. Honors art is really a testament to how much it takes to be an artist. Not only do you need all the materials that it takes to create your work, but you also need determination and support from fellow artists to get you through.
“You have people in [honors art] that are really passionate about art,” Margaret says, “and you have that creative time and space given to you to pursue and make whatever you’ve been wanting to make tangible.”
Sometimes, being an artist means giving up and starting over on a piece that you have spent weeks trying to figure out, or completely changing courses on your theme. This also means learning along the way, which is just the goal of this honors art.
As everything in our Lovett world seems to be changing, we are all trying to see how we can make the most of the situation put before us.
At the end of the day, even Mrs. Story is still learning how best to teach her unique class. “I have to let myself figure it out and make mistakes,” she says. “That’s like making art.”