Good day, Calendar Art

Posted on May 09 2006 in Features, For Youth

Cover art shown above for the May 2006 issue of Electric Consumer was created by our contest’s kindergarten winner, Mara Schroering, of Celestine, Ind. The upper portions of the art on the cover were digitally extended to fit our format. Her work will grace the cover of the 2007 calendar, too.

Our annual student art contest is in the books. Greet the winning works from grades k-12, and meet our “artist of the year.” In just several months, these winning works will be published in the 2007 cooperative calendar that will help you greet another new year!

A painting of a little girl picking a pumpkin was the prize pumpkin itself in the recently completed Cooperative Student Art Contest. The painting by Rachel Crisp, a junior at Adams Central High School, not only won the 11th grade division for November, it also was picked “Best of Show.”

The winning works, 13 in all from grades kindergarten through 12, will illustrate the cover and the 12 months of the Cooperative Calendar of Student Art 2007. Another nine student works were selected as honorable mention winners and will appear in a special section in the back of the calendar. Some 60,000 copies of the calendar will be available to consumers of participating electric co-ops in early fall.

More than 4,200 pieces of art were entered in the contest, sponsored by Electric Consumer and Indiana’s electric co-ops. The contest, now in its ninth year, was open to all Indiana students. The deadline was March 23.

With the “Best of Show,” Rachel, 17, was also named “Artist of the Year.” Both awards earned her $400 in all.

This was the first year Rachel entered the calendar art contest. She did create a work for July of the 2003 calendar when she was a seventh grader. She said it was a depiction of children catching fireflies with peanut butter jars. She wasn’t happy with the results, though, and never mailed it in.

“Rachel is probably her own worst critic,” said her dad, Jay Crisp, a teacher at a Catholic school in New Haven. He said painting is her “passion.”

Rachel’s dad had an interest in art when he was younger, and her mom, Lisa, is a creative floral designer. Though they both may have inspired and certainly encouraged Rachel’s interest in art, Jay said she has a “God-given talent” that she’s developed. He noted that Rachel, the middle child in the family that also includes two boys, has been drawing since preschool days.

This year, Rachel said she decided to enter the contest because the fall theme seemed easier to illustrate and her artistic skills had improved since that earlier attempt.

Keeping in mind that the art was to be for a wall calendar, Rachel once again turned to the popular calendar art theme of children. She wanted to focus on one child, she said, and “Googling” around on the Internet found a photo of a girl with pumpkins some family had put on its Web site. She liked the composition, but not the girl’s expression. More searching led to another photo of a little girl with an expression she liked whose head was turned in a similar way. Using the two photos as a guide, she then creatively composed the work.

She said she was a little surprised her painting did so well. “I was kind of worried about it looking too much like October,” she noted.

For the contest, each grade is assigned the corresponding month of the year: first graders have January; second graders have February; and so on. Juniors have November.

Rachel’s concern wasn’t unwarranted. The contest judges raised and discussed that very point: her painting did seem to fit October better than November. But pumpkins are also a part of Thanksgiving decorations, the judges noted, and Rachel’s skill in rendering the child and the pumpkins overcame their concerns about the monthly theme.

Rachel has made art one of her main subjects in school. She’s taking advanced painting this year. Though undecided about colleges and a career path, she said she hopes it will involve art, perhaps graphic design or teaching. She’ll get to see what teaching is like next year when she interns with the art teacher at Adams Central Elementary School.

Winning the art contest capped a big couple of weeks last month for Rachel. Another painting she did won Best of Show in an art contest in Adams County. That painting featured a series of seven self-portraits with varying expressions that moved from anger to joy. “I think it’s cool to make a painting look like a photograph instead of just slopping it down,” she said. “But there are all different types of art.”

The cooperative calendar, featuring Rachel’s painting and the varying styles of 21 other students, can attest to that.