By Ella Knight
Claudia Martino is a senior at Alexandria City High School. She is an artist and is attending VCU in the fall.
Ella: Claudia! How are you?
Claudia: I’m really good! I got out of school before the line of cars started piling up, so I’m feeling good.
Ella: It’s a good day.
Claudia: It’s a very good day. It’s really nice outside, too.
Ella: Indeed, indeed. You know, one of my favorite aspects about being friends with you is the fact that you often draw, so it’s really cool to see the genius at work! Was there a moment for you that pushed you to create something visual or was that always there?
Claudia: I always remember the time I started drawing was in the second or third grade, and it started because my family owned this big book with all of these drawings of cows in them. I distinctly remember sitting there and tracing them, and even though it was tracing, that’s how you start! And then my other big escapade was that I would look at those Fun2Draw videos on YouTube with all of the cartoon characters with the big creepy eyes. So, YouTube and cows! Really set me on the path to success.
Ella: That’s awesome! How did you progress to draw more than cows?
Claudia: I mean, I still love drawing cows. It’s a blast from the past sometimes. Mostly, improving in art is a lot of practice. If you ever want to improve in drawing, or writing, or playing piano, or whatever it is, the main thing you have to do is to sit down and do it until you’re good at it. So that was all I did throughout elementary and middle school. And looking back at my drawings now from middle school, I cringe so much but it got me there, you know?
Ella: Have you always taken an art class in school? Did that change how you create in any way?
Claudia: In middle school, because I was unjustifiably very confident in my artistic abilities, I decided in sixth grade to not take an art class. My thinking was that I drew so much out of school, so why did I need to take an art class? But I found that I really missed art class, and I felt like I didn’t have any time to do it because I was doing homework. So then the next year, I thought I definitely needed to take an art class. And I loved it! After middle school, I continued to take lessons from my teacher outside of class, and then I also did some of those team classes at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town.
Ella: That’s so cool! I love how the community helped you out in that way.
Claudia: For sure! Art teachers have always been important to me, which is why I want to be one.
Ella: Do you have a favorite subject to draw?
Claudia: Well, I’ve always been better at drawing people than animals. And I’m a lot better at realism than the cartoon-type style. I like to draw from life, without a picture, just to draw a person or an object in front of me. I think drawing from life and realism is where I’m most proficient.
Ella: And then, do you have a favorite medium?
Claudia: I use pencil quite a bit. It’s always what I have on hand. But other than that, I’ve been using watercolor a lot since middle school. And I really like acrylic paint, but watercolor is my favorite.
Ella: So, a big reason why we became really good friends in sophomore year is that we took AP Art History together! Did you find that learning about different artists and movements influences your art today in any way?
Claudia: Definitely. For a lot of artists, we break down what they did later. We notice what colors they used, or what proportions they used, and that kind of thing. Before I took the class, I just drew. But after learning about how we analyze art, it made me want to create art that people could analyze. I thought, for example, more about how I should place these two people next to each other in order to show their relationship. I thought about how someone looking at one of my art pieces would think about the colors I used.
Ella: Do you have a favorite artist we learned about?
Claudia: Alphonse Mucha! He’s from the Art Nouveau period, which is my favorite. I think he has a beautiful style. That period is so interesting. It’s a mixture of the arts and crafts phenomenon, and the art was so inspired by the Japanese woodblock prints with the thick outer line and the thin inner line. There’s so much floral imagery inspired by his work. I even got a tattoo of an art nouveau work!
Claudia: I just love the period so much.
Ella: Well Claudia, thank you so much for sitting down with me. It was amazing to learn more about something that you are so talented at.
Claudia: Thank you, Ella.