Emma Galbraith’s Artistic View

Emma Galbraith (one of our 11th grade students) paintings received 1st place in the high school division of the Platform Kids Art Show. I had the privilege to speak with Emma about this piece and a few additional art pieces she’s created.

Emma’s acrylic and watercolor piece exploring the “imagination” category in her thesis.

Emma, when did you first know you had artistic talent?

It wasn’t something necessarily that I myself realized. Art was just something I always did. I realized it was something I could both do and be good at when the people around me saw what I was drawing and told me that it looked good.

In your younger years, what kind of stuff were you drawing?

I would draw characters from the books I was reading, Warrior Cats. And they evolved over time to change their forms from cat warriors to being more humanoid, so that they were more relatable to a human audience. And they actually have their own story that I’m working on, but it’s a long term project with a hefty storyline.

What was the motivation for the piece that won 1st place in the high school division of the Platform Kids Art Show?

Our AP Art Class is assigned to do a “sustained investigation” where, basically, you pick a thesis that you will then explore and answer through art. My thesis was: Exploring the way peoples’ minds effect how they see the world around them – through three categories: imagination, memory, emotion/feeling. I interviewed my friends to try to get more perspective on my thesis. The piece that got submitted to Platform Arts was from the “imagination” category in my thesis.

Your submitted piece, how was that idea/image inspired?

I had a friend who told me about a woodsy area she had in her back yard growing up. And, as a child, she saw it as this big imaginative magical place where she would play make believe. But her family kind of remembers it as this drab back-woods area. So I combined that idea with my tendency to daydream in the middle of the day, often during school. I didn’t want to draw something purely from someone else’s perspective (because I don’t think I could represent that accurately) so, I needed to make it a little personal, in order to covey best something that made sense for me.

Can you tell me a little about how you chose the artistic mediums, colors, and style of this piece? And does it have meaning?

Yes, Mrs. Clever and I discussed the concept of using different mediums to show the feeling, emotion, or to influence the feelings you’re trying to invoke in the viewer. Therefore, for something more “imaginative”, I wanted to pick a medium more loose, with flowy bright colors… so that’s why I went with watercolors. But I also wanted this area more detailed because the main character (in the piece) is more focused on the world they’ve created instead of the rest of the world around them. In turn, the world around them appears more drab and less detailed than the world they’ve created for fun. For the “drab” world around the character, I used acrylic. And acrylic is really hard; I had no idea what I was doing!

Mrs. Clever, do you have anything to add regarding Emma’s piece?

Acrylic IS difficult because it drys VERY quickly. The contrast between the watercolor medium and the acrylic medium shows the artists used an integration of materials with meaning. Acrylic, by nature, is plastic when it drys and becomes rigid. So Emma put these rigid things next to these loose, painterly, watercolor scene; which is more detailed and engaging. This emphasizes the very stark, shadowy, locked-in-place figures of the “real world” next to the “imaginative” world showing a really nice contrast. Her chosen mediums aren’t just visually pleasing but has connection to her intent and the feel she wanted her piece to portray.

Emma Galbraith, 11th Grade

Tell me about this next piece with the person laying on the bed with all the clocks…?

This one was also exploring “imagination”, but was based off an interview response I got that said they liked to use imagination before they’re falling asleep (or at the end of the day) to try to ignore the fact that they have a lot of deadlines; maybe life (and the world around them) is very stressful.

Emma’s second piece for her AP Art Thesis Portfolio

And tell me about this third piece?

This is reflecting on “feeling and emotion” and has a partner piece (that is not yet done) to further establish the contrast between this piece and the one I’m going to do next. I went with acrylic paint for this one, but I used a lot of water while I painted to try to get things more loose and painterly feeling because emotion often times is not a solid thing; it fluctuates and can change. This is a simple closet space, but I wanted to portray it as something big and cozy; to capture the scene of someone who would go sit in their closet to escape and chill-out. I also used a “fisheye” lens perspective to make it seem larger from the characters perspective and less solid/rigid feeling.

Emma’s Third piece for her AP Art Thesis portfolio

Do you see yourself using art in your future?

Yes. I’d love to do visual storytelling through web comics. Using still images to tell a story. There are smaller animation studios that do the kind of work I find really interesting (there’s even one in Florida called Steamroller Studios) and they outsource/contract their animation artists. I’m very interested in a place like Studio Ghibli that produces 2D animation storytelling, but the world is a bit more geared towards 3D, so it’ll depend on where the industry goes.

What is the next step for pursuing this passion?

Over the summer I will be taking virtual classes at Ringling College of Art and Design. It’s a pre-college program that is a “sampling” of their art program that gives college credits and is modeled after the professional industry. It’s a four week course that will help build out my art portfolio which will assist in opening doors for college admissions (with art programs); especially with Ringling College, if Ringling feels like the “right fit”.