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Student Cover Art Contest Winners 2016

Impressive Portraits — A trio of likenesses captures the essence of the subjects depicted.

Portraiture ruled in The Monthly's 16th annual student cover art contest, with the three young artists choosing subjects close to their hearts to draw and paint in their winning art works.

The Monthly invited students attending East Bay public and private schools in grades six through 12 to submit entries. The winner became the September cover. It is also shown above, along with the second- and third-place winners.

Congratulations to these outstanding young artists as well as the other emerging Picassos who participated in the annual contest this year.

Maddy Lake
San Ramon Valley High School
(colored pencil)

Maddy Lake doesn't want to miss an artistic opportunity, and so she goes through her daily routine prepared.

"During the school year, I have a sketch book with me at all times," she said in phone interview right before leaving for a Half Moon Bay annual family camping trip. "I keep one on me, in my bag."

Maddy is the winner of the 2016 cover art contest with an untitled portrait she drew using her second-favorite medium, colored pencil. Entering San Ramon High School as a senior this year, the 16-year-old depicted her friend, Michelle, whose blue knit-capped head and orange-sunglassed face peer over a bright life vest she used on a Peru boat ride. Maddy worked from a photograph.

"I thought it looked really cool, and thought I would I would draw it," Maddy said. She said she liked working best in pencil, though colored pencil was a "close second." She has practiced the most with pencil but likes being able to blend colors with colored pencils. She has experimented with acrylic and tempera paints, she said, but preferred the ease of drawing over painting with its more cumbersome setup and cleanup requirements.

A first-time contest submitter, Maddy started taking art in school in the eighth grade. She is also a bit of a math and science geek and has also signed up to take AP classes in statistics, calculus, government, econ, and Spanish.

"I always liked to draw," she said. Portraiture, however, was intimating "because if it doesn't look like someone, I wouldn't feel very good about it."

So Maddy practiced, in between hikes with friends and runs with her sister. "My first one—of Beyoncé—turned out pretty well," Maddy said, explaining that her father got her books on portraiture and techniques and urged her to do portraits of herself and her sisters, now 18 and 20.

Maddy said her artistic maternal grandparents in part inspired her interest in visual art in a family in which all were expected to play a musical instrument. She chose the piano and clarinet until switching to visual art.

"Both of them can be creative. With music and art, you can see the outcome and how it affects other people," she said.

Maddy took the summer off, but had a busy one last summer at California College of the Arts where she had a "fantastic experience" taking painting and figure drawing classes with models—a new and more challenging experience for her. "I met so may fascinating people, not just ones who drew, but ones who did video game design and sculpture, too.

"I feel like I really improved a lot," she continued, taking an opportunity mention her Etsy page, MaddyLakeArt, for anyone who might want to commission a portrait. "When I look back at some of the earlier portraits, I see so much improvement."

Maddy, a big fan of Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol, said she is delving into observation and action poses as well as an illustrated or cartoony style with her art, in addition to portraiture.

"It's just fun to make something you see come to life that's not a picture," she said.

Sarah Fields
Bentley High School
Berkeley Dad

Artist Sarah Fields is also a crafts fan.

"I know how to knit. Lately, I have been knitting fun projects, little stuffed animals, and giving them to my friends," Sarah, 17, said in a phone interview, adding quilting and crocheting to her list of acquired crafts.

Now a Bentley High School senior, she won second-place in the student art contest with an acrylic portrait of her father, called Berkeley Dad. She painted it in response to an open-ended class prompt that asked students to incorporate the sky in a piece that demonstrates a time of day. In this one, it was afternoon at a Berkeley park, her mustached dad in a dark T-shirt sporting stylish sunglasses and hat with slightly impressionistic cars and trees as the backdrop.

Sarah, a longtime art student at school, said she worked from a small reference image "to fill in information that I didn't have" as well as her imagination. She said she liked doing portraits but had recently learned about abstract art and wanted to do more of that. She also likes doing landscapes, she said.

This summer, as she did in 2015, Sarah took a two-week college course at UCLA. "It really changed what I thought was art," she said, explaining she learned how art has emotions or moods.

Sarah said she loved art but also liked liked Spanish, history, and biology. Her career plans are far from settled, she said, but she is thinking about a double major in art and another subject with interior design, graphic design, and coding in the mix since she has an aptitude for math and science.

"The artists I'm most amazed by right now are Picasso—I like all the different styles he did. And Magritte, because his art was so real and unique. I'm into fantasy and that genre. Warhol and Lichtenstein, because I am into the Pop Art movement—and mid-20th century art."

As summer was ending, Sarah was volunteering her art skills at a center for the developmentally disabled, offering advice and encouragement.

Kerry O'Connor
Piedmont High School
(colored pencil)
--click the art to see a larger version--

When Kerry O'Connor submitted her self-portrait for the cover contest, she really didn't expect to win.

"Not so much," said the Piedmont High School senior in a phone interview two days before school started and the day before water polo practice began.

Her art teacher, Gillian Bailey, had sent out a reminder about the contest deadline, and Kerry said she recalled admiring fellow Piedmont students' work that had been showcased in print and decided, "I think I'd be interested in that."

Her image is a colored pencil drawing of herself wearing her purple softball team uniform as she positions a ball cap on her head.

"I took 20 photos before I settled on that one," said the 17-year-old right fielder. "I really liked the shadows on the hat. That's why I choose that one."

While it's her talent as a portraitist that was recognized, Kerry said portraits aren't her primary means of artistic expression. Her favorite subject is water.

"Probably ocean things," she said, revealing work on an in-progress painting of three people on surfboards. "Sailboats, anything water related. I think I like the fluidity of it."

Kerry said she liked colored pencils, particularly for their blending ability, and pencil as mediums. But she said her real passion is linocuts. "Basically, a huge stamp, more or less," she said, referring to the finished product.

She started art classes in school as a freshman and finishes four years of art with a two-dimensional AP art class this year. One of her favorite artists is David Hockney. "I like his landscapes," she said, admitting intrigue over his colors, differing styles, and mediums. "I like how he tries new things and had taken it to a new level and made his own."

The Piedmont resident spent her summer recovering from wisdom teeth extraction, attending family reunions, and completing a math and science summer program at Duke University.

"I hope to be an engineer, a civil engineer," Kerry said. "Civil engineers design buildings and bridges and stuff. It incorporates math and science, my strong suit."

Morgan Ellis, Piedmont High School, Summer Sole (acrylic)
Kate Greenblatt, Longfellow Middle School, Playing At Life (colored pencils)
Phoebe Kinder, Marin Academy, Modern Nature (watercolors and pencil)
Ryan Kong, Piedmont High School, A Gathering (watercolor and ink)

Odessa Blackmore

Morgan Ellis

Ilana Franklin

Kate Greenblatt

Ilana Franklin

Phoebe Kinder

Charlie Gamble

Ryan Kong











 FIRST PLACE Maddy Lake,
San Ramon Valley High School,

Maddy Lake
San Ramon Valley High School
(colored pencil)

First PLACE artist self-portrait

Maddy Lake, self-portrait