Erin Fossum is using the requirements of her advanced placement art class to document the personalities of her closest friends.
By year's end, the aspiring artist will have painted or drawn a dozen portraits for the portfolio she's assembling for the class.
Her work thus far has earned a nomination as Fine Arts Student of the Week.
"I have found Erin to be a student dedicated to quality and perfecting techniques toward attaining a style of her own," said art instructor Beth Medin. "She has a particular gift for communicating human personalities in watercolors."
Medin and metal arts instructor Jennifer Cramer nominated Fossum for the weekly award.
Cramer called Fossum a "diligent craftsperson" who is "self-motivated and able to excel with complex technical problems while maintaining creativity in subject matter."
Fossum has taken drawing I, II and III, multimedia design and photography in her sophomore and junior years, followed by AP art and metal arts this year. She also completed AP art history last year.
Although she has worked in several media -- pen and ink, charcoal, silk screen -- she prefers watercolors after being introduced to the technique in drawing III, Fossum said.
"I like how easily you can blend colors with watercolors," she said in an interview this week. "It allows room for errors and I like that."
Fossum's favorite subject is people, particularly those she knows the best, she said.
"I'm able to portray the characteristics of people I know, particularly how to portray their personality traits," she said. "People are my favorite subject because you see people on an everyday basis and it's neat to break down the human face into a series of shapes to see ... their similarities as well as their differences."
Over the years, she's painted about a dozen of her friends, and the theme of "people I know" is the unifying element in her AP art portfolio, she said.
An honor student with a 3.92 grade-point average, Fossum plans to attend the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis next year. But she is still unsure of her major, although she's leaning toward a degree in architecture.
Carmen Cummings, freshman, debate: Only a ninth-grader, she is debating successfully at the JV level and has already taken first place at one debate and a third place in another, said the debate coach. Her strength lies in her dedication and willingness to prepare.
Ashley Stern, junior, art: She has produced "some very well done art work this semester," her art teacher said. "Her work extends beyond the classroom and her drawings reflect that extra effort and concentration."
Alison Nelson, junior, Brainonian: "She is very trustworthy and works with the business staff handling yearbook revenue," the yearbook adviser said. "She is self-motivating and works well with her peers."
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