What can three-year-olds do?
At age three, senior Stephanie Shi discovered her talent for drawing by doodling in her living room. Her passion for art has stuck with her since then, and as this year’s MVHS Art Club President, Shi hopes to create more opportunities for other students to create art together. In an interview with El Estoque, Shi describes her experiences, memories and perspectives on art.
El Estoque: Describe your experience with art.
Stephanie Shi: I started when I was three or four. I knew how to draw before I could write the letters of the alphabet. I was sitting in the living room and doodling, and my mom saw something I drew and she was like, “Oh, wow, you draw pretty well for a three-year-old!” Then my mom started sending me to classes.
EE: What drew you to art?
SS: I started too long ago to really remember. Art is one of those things that feels like it’s just always been a part of my life.
EE: Do you remember any specific instances when you were frustrated with art?
SS: At the beginning of my sophomore year, I had to switch studios because my teacher was moving to China to teach; he was going to be a professor there. I switched to [Yun Hua Fang Art Studio].
EE: How did it feel, adapting to a new studio?
SS: I had to adapt to [my new teacher’s] style. The summer before junior year, I went to one of Mr. Fang’s art camps, where you do art every day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, and after school you have to do more art because he assigns homework. I learned a lot from that.
EE: Will you consider majoring or minoring in art in college?
SS: Probably not, because I don’t think I’m good enough to actually go into art as a profession. I also don’t want to lose something I like, because I feel like when you major in something, sometimes you start to dislike it because you get frustrated, right? I don’t want art to be something I get frustrated with. I want it to be something that I can always enjoy.
EE: Do creative projects in school give you ample opportunity to showcase your passion for art?
SS: Kind of. It isn’t a lot, but I took Mythology/Folklore last year, and we had a lot of group projects. It helped a lot if you knew how to draw.
EE: Is art more of a community interest or an individual one?
SS: It depends on what kind of art you do; it can be both. It also depends on what you’re doing the art for; if you’re doing the art for yourself, like self-expression, or just doing it for fun, then it’s definitely individualistic. But if you’re doing something for the community, say like painting a mural, then it’s more of a community thing and you have to consider what other people like.
EE: Do you feel that MVHS offers a good environment for students interested in art?
SS: Yes, I think it does. Despite what people say about MVHS being really science and academic-heavy, I think that we actually have really good art programs. Mr. Chow and Mr. Shelton are both really supportive of people who want to go into art. And not many people know about it, but I think our students get into pretty prestigious art schools.
EE: What are some benefits of being a part of a community of artists?
SS: You can hear more from other people’s opinions, and you can learn more from other people’s styles. There might be something they’re doing that you want to learn more from so you can change and improve.
EE: Do you follow a structured method when you create art?
SS: It depends on what medium you are using. I use acrylic for painting, and I use at least three or four layers of [paint]. In the first layer, I use black to outline the art. The second layer is just base colors, which aren’t always close to the actual color. For example, if the final color is yellow, then the base color can be olive or green. Then the final layer is where I put on the actual color.
EE: Who is your favorite artist?
SS: My favorite artist is Mondrian. I went to a 2-D Design camp and we studied his work for a week, and he made his art different colored squares. It’s like abstract art.
EE: What is your favorite form of art and how did you discover it?
SS: Lately, I like graphic design the most. I basically got into graphic design because I was interested in art first.
EE: Do you have any advice for students with no prior art experience who are interested in learning art?
SS: Don’t be afraid of starting even though it seems like it’s too late since it’s high school already. It’s never too late to start. And don’t rush, because sometimes people get impatient and they rush, and when you look at their artwork in the end, you can tell that it was rushed because a lot of the lines aren’t that neat.