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The Norseman

Art imitates life: Student earns recognition, praise through portraiture

The movement of a line on a clean white page. Each brush stroke changing the landscape and the meaning of a piece. Art is an expression of the soul and sophomore Riena Mishima has grown and developed as an artist in portraiture and other genres.

“I’ve been drawing since before I could speak,” Riena said. “In school, I usually participate in VASE and the George Bush Art and Essay contest, but I have also had my artwork chosen to hang in downtown. My favorite thing about creating art is seeing and hearing peoples’ reactions to my pieces.”

This year, Riena’s artwork won “Best Portrait” in the DEGART competition. This was the first time Riena’s artwork had been shown in a professional gallery, and it all happened through a series of unexpected events.

“I have a piece that was selected for TASA/TASB, but it was a landscape one. The portrait I made was chosen in the Dega Contest, but wasn’t originally for it,” Riena said. “It was actually the first piece for my AP drawing sustained investigation. A substitute for Mrs. Richards, Mr. Theodore, saw my painting the day he subbed and asked me to submit it to the contest. He teaches figure drawing classes at the Dega Gallery, which is how he knew about the contest.”

Riena’s art teacher, Renee Richards, provides her with supplies and information on whatever she needs. As one of the more advanced high school art students, Riena does not need much guidance or help with her physical artworks. Richards is there to support her.

“At this level, I provide her with three sources,” Richards said. “She already has her technique down, so I facilitate what she needs to explore her ideas and create her artwork. If she’s working with oils, I provide oils. If she’s looking for artists that are working with fabric, I provide books and online resources that she could get to further her explorations.”

As an advanced art student, Riena has the ability to portray her art in a way that matches her vision. She is skillful in many styles and techniques, and understands how to use them and what they are meant to illustrate for the audience.

“She has a Baroque style that shows idealized textures and dramatic lighting,” Richards said. “She carries it off well and does it way better than a high school student normally would.”

Riena’s mother, Kelli Mishima, has seen Riena’s artwork grow and mature over time. She witnesses the hard and the good times when it comes to her incredible hobby.

“Riena has always tried to challenge herself by trying different mediums, styles, and time lines,” Mishima said. “I think improvement is relative. In that sense, I believe she is finding her own style, more comfort in different mediums, and recognizing timeline limitations.”

Though Riena doesn’t need help when it comes to creating her designs and complex pieces, she is always open to questions when someone else needs help. She never shuts anyone down and always tries to help in the areas where she can.

“All her life, Riena has been interested in art,” Mishima said. “She’s always been creative in all subjects and has been a creative force. People ask for her artistic works, opinions, and ideas. She never discourages other’s art and helps when asked.”

Riena’s mother has a difficult time pinning down her favorite piece of artwork.

“Every year, I have a new favorite piece of Riena’s artwork,” Mishima said. “Two years ago, it was the perspective piece she did, ‘View’. Last year, it was the one she did of my youngest daughter, and this year it is the one of her.”

Having done art her entire life, some of the questions she gets asked the most is how long it takes her to create a piece and if she will continue after high school.

“Depending on how much free time I have and the complexity of the piece, it can take from a week to three weeks for one painting,” Riena said. “I think if I have time then I would like to continue to make art, but since it is just a hobby, I won’t be too upset if I don’t.”

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Sophia Bradley
Sophia Bradley, Editor
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