Kelly Zhang

Oliver Capito, Staff Writer

The colors seem to burst out of the pictures. Blues, reds, yellows, every color on the spectrum seems to be popping out in a way that makes the picture cohesive. This seems to be the best way to describe senior Kelly Zhang’s art.

Zhang got into art after watching anime such as Bleach, Attack on Titan, and Maid-Sama. Dystopian movies like Alita: Battle Angel also encouraged her to make art pieces. However, it wasn’t just fictional works that motivated her to make art.

“I’m really inspired by my sister because she also did art with me and she’s really talented,” Zhang said. “[Another idol I have is] Vincent Van Gogh. I just feel like he devoted his life to art, and he was just with art. [His story] was really tragic, so it inspired me.”

Zhang has been to many different art competitions. Such as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the Scholastic Art and writing competition. The competitions consist of judges who will review each art piece for several different qualities against a rubric that is specific to that contest.

“Each competition is really different,” Zhang said. “For the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, it’s more about painting very realistically, and capturing country-life. For [the] Scholastic [Art and Writing Competition], you have more freedom, but you don’t have a personal level where you can talk to judges about [your art piece].”

One of these competitions is VASE, a Texan art competition that had over 35,000 entries in their 2019 contest. Zhang’s art piece made it all the way to state recognition in this competition.

“I really like VASE because I got a lot of advice and inspiration from there,” Zhang said. “They talk [about] what I should look for in my art and how I could…become a professional artist if I wanted to be.”

The VASE competition looks for five things in an entry: student research and application of work, sources for artwork, execution and technique, aesthetics and critical judgement, and personal expression. The judges will also interview the artist as well. 

“The one art piece [Out of the Shadows] I turned in for VASE that got state level recognition. I [started] it in freshman year, and came back to it junior year, so that really helped,” Zhang said.

From a little sketch to a state-recognized art piece, all art has to start from a blank canvas. According to Zhang, the best way to start an art piece is to make it personal.

“It always has to start with inspiration or like if something really important happened to you in your life,” Zhang said. “It does take planning if you want to join certain thumbnails or little sketches to see how you want it, or it could just be impulsive. It really depends on you.”

Zhang’s art teacher, Patricia Kuhn, says that having this personal inspiration in your art can make it more endearing to the people looking at it.

“[Zhang] typically takes tremendous amounts of time and care with her work,” art teacher Patricia Kuhn said. “This year, she’s done a portfolio that’s very personal to her…her actual image is appearing in most of the pieces that she’s been working on this year. [Not] everyone likes to do that, [but] Kelly’s not afraid to do that.”

Zhang says that art could be a tiring activity, especially if you are competing with others. She has some ways of combating the mental fatigue of making art projects.

“[Art is] honestly a mental game because you constantly have to compare yourself to others,” Zhang said. “It gets you really down because you feel like you lack skill sometimes…you need to get past those mental issues and focus on your love for art and creating it, instead of seeing the end results and not being happy because you lack the certain talent that other artists have.”