“I was able to create an image showing shadows, dimension and texture using only a pencil.”
That sentence began a “portfolio statement” adjacent to a sepia-toned pencil sketch of a pair of sandals, one resting against the other — one of dozens of painted, sketched, assemblage, appliquéd fabric or 3-D art displayed Thursday in Half Moon Bay High School’s K building at the art department’s Open Studio.
About one-third of the student body is enrolled in art classes, estimated art teacher Larkin Evans, and most had entered a creative self-expression in the show.
The student portfolio accompanying the sketch of sandals, by Art I student Tessa Kelly who named it “A Walk in My Shoes,” explained the medium she used, her approach to the sketch and what she might have done differently with more time.
Both sketch and statement reflected an art-savvy mindset drawn from art classes.
“If you look closely you can see that the shadows are strong and specifically cast,” Kelly’s statement continues. “In my opinion, the best part of the picture is the simplicity of it, and how every single detail was captured with a single material.”
It was a casual scenario Thursday, as students milled about, chatting with friends, admiring each other’s art or hunched over tables in the art rooms, sipping sodas and working on art projects. Parents visited as well, making their way along the halls to gaze at the variety of student artwork.
“It’s kind of like a regular school day, except that parents are here and students can use their cell phones,” said Evans.
The purpose of the annual open house, she said, was for art students to share their work with the community, catch up on projects and share art with peers.
It also offered the students a standard by which to measure their own progress.
“Even when I’m just doodling, I can create something nice,” said senior Robbie Hardman, a first-year art student.
Timmery Richie, a representative from the Academy of Art University of San Francisco stood at a table in the hall, answering questions from interested students. Does the university get interest from Half Moon Bay High students? “Definitely,” she said.
The open house was casual, as opposed to the more formal, juried exhibit of student art at the Coastal Arts League scheduled for two weeks in May.
But on Thursday, “every student has something on display,” said Evans.
“We like to see not only her work but that of the other students,” said Melanie Yee of Moss Beach, whose sophomore daughter Anjyu had shown art that night.
“We really enjoy it,” added her husband Andrew.
“We think it’s wonderful,” said Del Wilbanks, who with wife Donna came to see student art including that of their granddaughter, freshman Maya Buzbee.
“I’m very proud,” said Janine Barger, who had come to see art created by her freshman daughter Natalie. “It’s very important to see so much work coming out of these young kids.”
In one room, professional artist Rebecca Ellis stood at a large table, demonstrating her technique as she worked on an abstract watercolor painting based on Coastside landscape. She also made herself available to answer questions from young artists.
“I’m here because (art teacher) Patty (Clavijo) and Larkin wanted me to be here … for the kids to see and also to be an example for them,” she said.
For the students, art was more than just another school requirement.
“It brings out my creative side,” said junior and first-year art student Connor Pope as he critically surveyed sculptures of human figures made of plaster-covered foil.
“Being able to show my feelings through art” was what first-year art student and junior Harry Zaidain said he liked about art, as he surveyed his Humvee made with carefully arranged layers of cardboard. As opposed to writing feelings down, he said, “It’s easier to sketch what I am thinking.”
Art students and friends freshman Darren Simser and seniors Natalie Godinez and Mariela Barajas share why they liked art, over projects in one of the art rooms.
“I get to talk with my friends,” said Simser.
“It’s a challenge,” said Godinez, adding that she liked “using nature to create art, like environmental installations.”
“It sparks imagination,” said Barajas. “It’s great to express myself through art and sculpture, and fun to show other people.”
Though winter rains reduced the number of visitors, Evans painted the event a success.
“As far as involvement, interaction, discussions about art, it was excellent,” she said. “The best ever.”
In a technology-driven world, what does art mean to teens?
“It speaks to you,” Evans said. “It speaks to your heart.”