Paint’ no mountain high enough

Junior advances to state in art competition

Dayna Ung, Staff Reporter

She laughed at the description of why they liked her painting, carefree and deliberate. She chuckled thinking how to some people, each brushstroke seemed purposeful, but to her, all she remembered was rushing to finish the painting two days before the competition.

Junior Grace Park has been doing art for as long as she can remember and has accumulated many fond memories from previous art competitions. This year, she took part in the Regional Visual Arts and Scholastic (VASE) Competition, and two of her paintings are advancing to state on April 23-24.

“Art has been a part of my life for as long as I remember,” Park said. “So I can’t really picture my life without it. It’s a way for me to express myself. I think my life would be a lot less meaningful if I was not involved with art or if I did not decide to pursue art.”

For the VASE competition, Park said she chose a surrealist style for her oil painting, gaining inspiration from artists such as Rene Magritte. She also chose a more realistic style for her watercolor painting.

“My inspiration comes from a lot of pre-1900s artists like Renaissance and Baroque artists,” Park said. “I also look up to a lot of YouTube artists and a lot of modern artists, who made it using social media platforms.”

Park said that the oil painting, titled “The Fortune Teller”, was meant to showcase how the future is inevitable and all we can do is accept it, especially during the pandemic. The watercolor painting, “Watermelon Summers” was meant to have a nostalgic effect because Park remembered how her grandma would always cut watermelon in the summer when they were younger.

“The first painting is kind of foreboding in a sense, but it’s also very common in acceptance, because the future is uncertain and scary,” Park said. “But all I can do is remain calm and accept it and just wait and see what happens. ‘Watermelon Summers’ is about nostalgia, and how when you’re young, you’re so innocent, and unaware of what’s happening in the world right now. So it kind of expresses my desire to go back to a time where I didn’t have to worry about everything.”

Park said she thought that what made her paintings unique in comparison to others was how she didn’t copy it directly from the photo. Instead, she puts her own spin on her paintings and makes it her own.

“Especially when they’re in high school, I noticed that paintings tend to be very portrait focused, or copied almost directly from a photograph,” Park said. “It’s very literal, if that makes sense, and if you look at a lot of VASE paintings, you can see that there are similarities. But I think that the way that I frame things within my painting kind of stands out from the rest, especially with ‘The Fortune Teller’.”

Being an artist for so long, Park said she understands what it’s like to constantly compare herself with other artists that always seem to be better than you. She recognizes how meaningless it can feel to think that you might not be as good as somebody else.

“I would say, just keep working on it,” Park said. “Don’t be disheartened if you’re in a rut or if your art doesn’t look good, because if you keep working on it, it gets better. And everybody is ‘bad at art’ at some point, but you just have to stick it out until you can see the improvement.”