Artist of the Month: Alyssa Chow

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Credit: Courtesy of Alyssa Chow

Pictured above is one of sophomore Alyssa Chow’s favorite art pieces. They created a pair of 4×4 drawings as a part of the WHS Daily Draw Challenge over quarantine. “The two pieces I drew correspond to those albums [Rubber by Six Impala], and I’m proud of the way the loose ballpoint pen strokes came out,” Chow said.

Sophomore Alyssa Chow found their passion for art in elementary school when they would go outside and find inspiration from nature and their surroundings. While they love to draw with traditional mediums like pencil and pen, they are also exploring other tools such as digital art. Chow typically creates organic pieces, like people and animals, but also describes their work as partly abstract. Currently, they are enrolled in Art 2 at WHS, a course that challenges them to create pieces using styles they wouldn’t normally use. Chow hopes to improve their artwork by expanding their scope and learning new techniques.

How were you introduced to art?
“I don’t really know when I realized I liked drawing, but in elementary school I would usually go outside and kind of just grab bugs from trees and draw them. I guess my love for nature motivated me to draw animals so I could understand them better. Books like Steve Jenkins’ with collages of animals and information alongside them were some of my favorite things to read, so maybe that made me want to make educational art of wildlife like many authors did. I really liked dragons in elementary school as well, and another thing that probably got me into drawing were all the step-by-step ‘How To Draw’ books you could borrow [from] Happy Hollow’s library. There was one book in particular that featured different dragons from different cultures and how to draw them, which was a personal favorite for second grade me.”

How would you describe your work?
“A very large work in progress. I guess it’s usually centered around organic, living things like people and animals, but with a lot of random abstractness going on at times. I like triangles and lines and tend to slap them in backgrounds a lot. I like designing fictional creatures or adding cybernetic parts to animals as well. I’ve been improving a lot during quarantine and because of the WHS Daily Draw Challenge. Joining online art groups has also helped a lot.”

What is your favorite medium to use?
“I really love traditional mediums like pens, pencils and watercolor, but I am trying out digital art with a Huion tablet and the application Firealpaca. Pencils with varying hardnesses, BIC ballpoint pens and ink pens are my go-tos. I especially like doing a piece mostly in black ink and then going back with a brightly colored gel pen for highlights.”

How do you think your art has changed or progressed over the years?
“From elementary school to around fifth grade or sixth grade, I would usually draw with pencil and colored pencil, and I’d skip sketching to immediately put down the final lines. This led to a lot of running out of space on paper and shapes that didn’t really feel natural, since I would jump immediately to the final product. Now I usually sketch out what I want to draw in light pencil, and I use reference pictures to help get the results I want. I’ve also started using longer pen strokes because I’m more confident in my hand movements; I’ve mostly stopped putting down lines I don’t mean to, making things more efficient. I think, in general, my anatomy has gotten better and I’m more confident when I draw.”

What is your favorite piece of work and why?
“I think my favorite piece (or pieces) is a pair of the drawings I did for the WHS Daily Draw Challenge. I wanted to have a theme going on for all my drawings, but to still have creative freedom, so I ended up basing every drawing I did off of a piece of music I listened to that day. At some point I happened upon a really interesting album called ‘Rubber’ by Six Impala, and I also found that album’s alternate mix version. The two pieces I drew correspond to those albums.”

Who are some artists that inspire you?
“Definitely Lauren Marx. Her blend of ink and watercolor is super cool to look at, and the composition of her pieces and the way she manipulates her subjects into really cool poses is awesome. A lot of her art is kinda gory and focuses on themes of mortality in nature, sometimes with religious symbolism. She also does this thing where she can combine different animals into one creature just by putting them on the paper in a certain way, and it’s something I haven’t seen before. Terryl Whitlach also has amazing art, and the way she can give made up creatures believable anatomy is a skill I want to learn.”

How have the WHS art classes impacted you?
“The WHS art classes have given me a chance to try new mediums and challenge myself with new types of art, such as linocut and using light-colored pastels on black paper. The projects we do have prompted me to do things outside of my comfort zone, like self portraits, and improve on the way.”

What future plans do you have for your art?
“My art style isn’t very realistic, and my understanding of musculature isn’t very good, so those are definitely places I’m going to have to work on in terms of the art itself. [I have to work on] shading and choosing colors, especially digitally, [as well]. I have a tendency to pick colors that are too saturated when I don’t want them to be, and picking colors that look good together, especially when light sources are at play, is difficult for me. I also want to start taking commissions for art on the side so I can practice drawing a variety of subjects while making money at the same time.”