Marion High School senior Logan Maytum planned to put in the delicate brush strokes to give the husky’s black and white fur the realistic photo-quality texture. He wanted to put in snow in the foreground, falling flakes over the top of the dog’s black fur, fuzzy and slightly out-of-focus. He planned to mix a combination of paints to match the husky’s brilliant, pale blue eyes.
Before he could add any of those details that would be points of distinction in the finished product, Maytum had to make sure the dog’s eyes were in the right spot.
He worked off a photograph, zoomed into a husky’s eyes, about 5 by 2.5 inches. He divided the photo into six equal grids and drew the same lines on his 5 x 2.5 foot canvas with a charcoal pencil. He erased, repositioned, and restructured the eye sockets to best match the photo. Located near his work station are the stairs near the back entrance of the Marion High School art lab; Maytum would periodically climb the stairs so he could peer down at the canvas at a 10-foot distance.
“I want it to be really close to this,” Maytum said pointing to the photograph.
“He is capable,” MHS art teacher Janessa Wood responded.
The advanced art projects for Maytum, Briana Hall, and Andrea Nordquist are requirements for each student to show the skills learned over their high school career. Each student had to build their own canvas, stretching the cloth over a simple wood frame, stressing their hands stapling the canvas to the boards, and then covering the cloth with Gesso sealant. It was an exercise in building from the ground up, but it also saved each student about $30, Wood said.
Maytum is a perfectionist, and in that way is an extension of Wood, his first-year instructor. Wood said she rarely gives 100 percent on any project. She’s not being unnecessarily strict, but believes that few works are ever truly finished. She looks at some of her own paintings and can see flaws, areas of improvement.
Woods said each of the three students improved over the semester. She said Nordquist made the most progress. For her project, Nordquist chose to go in the opposite direction of Maytum. She is painting an impressionistic scene of the New York City skyline, bracketing the Brooklyn bridge, bathed in a red sunset on a 5-feet-by-3-feet canvas.
Woods said that Hall already has the skill of a college art student. That skill has been honed with hours at an easel; Hall tries to paint at least once a week during the summer and whenever her busy schedule can accommodate the activity during the school year.
Hall’s style is a bit more whimsical than Maytum’s, who adhered to a strict true-to-life representation. Hall is transferring an impressionistic painting of a couple kissing in a park onto a 2.5-feet-by-4-feet canvas. The two figures are dark and muddled into simple shapes, but they are surrounded by bright splotches of color — applied using a pallet knife — covering the entire color spectrum. Hall said she prefers to work with bright, warm colors whenever possible.
Maytum and Hall are already accomplished artists … at least in the fact that people want their work. Hall said she has given many works away; Taylor Harms has a vast collection of original Halls, including a painting as a high school graduation present last year.
Maytum plans to give his husky painting to his sister. Friends have trusted him enough to have him draw their tattoos and then request an artist to transfer those designs to their skin exactly.
Both artists are pursuing creative futures. Maytum intends to attend Flint Hills Technical College for an automotive focus. He envisions himself installing car stereos.
Hall is headed to Kansas State University. She said she is looking into double majoring in elementary education and art.
Whatever is next, each artist can take solace in building a high school masterpiece from scratch and a perfectionist streak that may have been fostered in the process.