Artist Spotlight: Erika Lipford produces a new look in art

Grace Kim, Online Chief

Sophomore Erika Lipford has come a long way from stick figures. This featured artist is a true testimony to the old adage “practice makes perfect.”

“I used to be horrible at art. I couldn’t draw a stick figure to save my life. But I just started drawing, and drawing, and eventually, after years of drawing these horrible doodles, I started to improve. From then on, I was completely captured by art.  The school’s studio class is the first art class I’ve ever taken,” Lipford said.  Lipford is currently taking a break from her Studio 2 projects and is working on her charcoal tribute to her favorite actor, Benedict Cumberbatch.   Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes in the BBC recreation of the story.

“…The shape of his face could make a really amazing piece for the shadows. I love charcoal pieces because of the dramatic lighting, and how the picture can be carved out of the shadows, as if the portrait was emerging from the darkness,” Lipford said.  One of Lipford’s past artworks that she is particularly fond of was a pencil drawing of shells done in her Studio 1 class.   “The whole point of the drawing was to portray an emotion, and while shells are interesting to draw, I chose to do a skull and a broken, cracked shell. In my mind, it portrayed the broken, empty, cracked feeling that’s experienced after a death. The shadows cast by the skull were sharp, and jagged from the teeth, and it made a really interesting piece.”

Lipford’s preferred art mediums are charcoal and watercolor, as she has “never been fabulous at painting.”  “I’m more of the kind of person who draws free hand, just a regular pencil, nothing special really. But I love using charcoal for the heavy shadows, and when I’m feeling a lighter picture, I’ll break out the watercolor,” Lipford said.  Lipford’s art style is self-proclaimed as “sketchy,” as she is “more of a detailed person.”  “I like to go into great detail on whatever I’m drawing or painting. It’s a bad habit of mine sometimes because when I’m trying to sketch out an idea for a charcoal piece or painting, I always put way too much time and effort.”

Music and emotions from past experiences are the main sources of her inspirations for her artwork.  “The feeling of happiness, heartbreak, loss, and hurt really add a defining characteristic behind every piece. It makes the piece much more believable, because the emotions are something that everyone has felt at one point in their life. I want people to connect with my art, to feel the emotions behind the piece and relate it to some point in their life,” Lipford said.

Lipford has matured as a budding artist, but she still looks up to her cousin’s artistic ability and aims to come up to her level one day.  “When I was younger, my cousin was just beginning to experiment in the art world.  She was, and still is, absolutely fabulous. Looking at her art, I was completely enthralled by the idea that someday, I could create something just as amazing. I haven’t reached anywhere close to where she is, but I’m hoping that one day, I’ll be able to draw just like her,” Lipford said.  According to Lipford, her cousin studies art in college with plans to pursue art as a career.

“I jokingly call her the ‘Queen of Arts,’” art teacher Michael Gaudreau said.  “She’s always thinking of new and challenging ideas to draw.  She has a lively imagination.” According to Gaudreau, four of Lipford’s pieces are being featured in the art show at Rockfield Park, an accomplishment that he is proud of her for.

As for her future in the art world, Lipford is still unsure about what path she will take.  “I can’t fully say that I’ll pursue a career in art…All I can say at this point is that art is my passion, and I love creating art, learning about the different types, experimenting, and just being surrounded by art. Who knows, maybe I’ll turn out to be an artist after all…But I’m glad I took studio, because I love all the friends I’ve met, and all the things that I’ve learned, from both the teachers and the artists around me,” Lipford said.

Grace Kim is the Online Chief for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com