Painting with a passion

March 16, 2002, midnight | By Rachel Yood | 20 years, 2 months ago

Christine Wang's talent earned her over $3,000 in her first art show

When she was in kindergarten, junior Christine Wang got angry when her teacher took away one of the four colors of tempera paint after the other kids put the wrong brush into the paint.

Eleven years and many gallons of paint later, Wang held her first art show at the Yellow Barn Gallery on Mar 2 and 3 in Glen Echo. Friends and admirers agree that the work in this show demonstrates both Wang's intense creativity and her brilliance.

Primary colors

Wang uses bold and often surprising combinations of color in her work. Although she says she uses a lot of blues, greens and bright reds, she changes her palette radically from painting to painting, fearlessly moving from vibrant yellow backgrounds and red-highlighted skin tones to more subdued schemes. But Wang never limits herself to a few colors. In the painting she printed for her show's promotional postcard, for example, Wang uses a full spectrum. The model's skin is shown in wide swaths of white, yellow, orange, red, pink, blue and violet.

Wang tends to work on large canvases, but her subject often spreads well beyond the edges. She clips the tips of bananas in one still life and, in several cases, chops off a model's entire head. In one work, which spreads over two canvases, a woman lounges before her reflection, the edges of the work lopping off the top of her head and all of her head in the reflection. Wang's prominent brushstrokes create a sense of movement in the still subject, and a soft color scheme centered around violet and yellow lends the work a gentle atmosphere.

Despite common elements in her works, Wang's paintings vary widely in both style and subject matter. The art in Wang's show includes figures, landscapes and still lifes. In some paintings she tames her brushwork, but many are dominated by her bold strokes. And her artistic talent is not limited to painting. Her show includes a terra cotta sculpture of a woman and the products of a printmaking workshop she took last year.

Junior Cory Choy, who received Wang's painting of an alleyway as a gift, has trouble finding words for Wang?s talent.?She made it look so beautiful. There?s no other way to describe it," he explains.

But according to her friends, Wang's work transcends mere beauty and technical excellence. From what begins as apparently random splotches of paint, Wang creates?a strong sense of emotion," says junior Danielle Prados.

Wang says that the subject matter of her art is rarely personal. The figures are primarily paid models rather than people in her life. But painting is still a very emotional experience for her.?I?m in complete control over the canvas?if I say red, it's going to be red," says Wang. She says she looks upon her work as a reflection of herself.

Wang's abilities go far beyond the work she has done for her show. Wang has also applied her talents to the set of last year's musical, Guys and Dolls, and she is also proud to have a 3.65 GPA in the Magnet Program.

"If it ain't broke"

Wang says that her art teachers are the primary influence on her work. Mary Bloom, who taught Wang in studio art last year, describes the task as?challenging." Even the most talented students, Bloom says, should be pushed to work beyond their own expectations. According to Bloom, the adage?if it ain?t broke, don't fix it" does not apply to artists, even those with obvious skill like Wang.?If that were true, there wouldn?t be any evolution in art," she says.

Although other students are usually astounded by the quality of Wang's work, Bloom believes that Wang is unusually willing to learn and to try things that are not guaranteed to be successful.?She gets a lot of peer approval, but she doesn't take it too seriously," says Bloom. Instead, Wang constantly looks for ways to improve her art.

For Wang, learning means finding classes outside Blair as well. She spends five hours a week painting at the Yellow Barn Gallery, where she held her show.

Putting on a show

According to junior Heather Dwyer, who takes art lessons with Wang and whose own show was held at the Yellow Barn Gallery last month, a tremendous amount of work is involved in organizing a show. Responsibilities include printing and mailing hundreds of promotional postcards, writing a press release and setting up the gallery, which doubles as a classroom during the week.

Almost every piece in Wang's show was for sale. Their prices ranged from $70 to $1,000, earning Wang more than $3,000 that weekend for the 17 paintings she sold. Wang says that she has come to terms with giving up her paintings, although she still has some qualms about the prices her parents set for her artwork.?I think they?re too expensive," Wang says.

This is not the first time that Wang's talents have been recognized. While in eighth grade, Wang received an honorable mention in a student art show in Rockville. Wang laughs, remembering,?I was really angry?I should have gotten at least second."

Choy believes that Wang is extremely passionate about all aspects of her life.?She feels emotion really deeply, and it comes out in everything she does," explains Choy.

And, according to Bloom, Wang and her art will continue to improve. "She's still a work in progress herself," says Bloom.

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Rachel Yood. Rachel Yood is a junior in the Communication Arts Program at Blair. She is excited to join Silver Chips as a page editor, but suspicious of the time the newspaper seems to take from her primary activity: sleeping. When not working or curled up in … More »

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