Last fall, senior Colby Paul and sophomore Eva Curran contributed to Cheshire High School making history as the first program to win all five Southern Connecticut Conference girls’ sports crowns in the same season. As a tri-captain, Paul helped CHS field hockey beat Branford, 2-1, in the tournament final, while Curran played a key role in her cross country team taking first place in their title meet.
Recently, the girls earned conference honors again for their artistic skills. Curran and Paul were among a select group of students honored for their artwork in the SCC Art Expo held from March 25 to April 29.
Curran took first place for her piece combining a beta fish and carnations.
“I had no idea that would happen,” reflected Curran, on her first-place finish. “This was my first year doing Drawing I (class at CHS).”
Paul also made the finals for her charcoal drawing of a saw.
“It was very exciting because I didn’t have a lot of expectations going into it,” reflected Paul.
Annually in the spring, Creative Arts Workshop (CAW) teams with the SCC for an art show held in New Haven. Member schools are able to submit up to three works of art for the event. Professional artists and/or art administrators evaluate the pieces and make recommendations on who should receive prizes.
As a part of Group B this year, Curran and Paul both had their work shown at CAW from April 15 through 29. CHS was the only school to have two students make the eight-person final group.
“That is really cool. I think we have a lot of talented people at our school,” said Curran. “She (Paul) is a great artist.”
For their work in drawing classes at CHS, Paul and Curran had their works nominated for consideration by teacher Sara McGrimley.
Curran’s winning piece was made during a unit on surrealism.
“She (McGrimley) showed us things that combined animals and nature,” explained Curran. “I wanted to do something pretty and I always thought that beta fish were pretty.”
After discovering pictures of a carnation and a beta fish, she used a computer program to form them into one image. She then used that image as inspiration for her own unique piece.
McGrimley taught Curran about burnishing, a technique used to create an opaque look with colored pencils.
“My hand was so tired by the end and my colored pencils were so worn down,” recalled Curran.
The assignment took her a month or two to complete.
“I got a 100% on that one, so I was happy,” said Curran.
While Curran was inspired by nature for her work, Paul was assigned to find something in the industrial world to draw. In looking around her garage, her dad’s saw caught her eye.
“He works on it a lot, so I thought that would make a good piece,” explained Paul.
Before starting her picture, she hadn’t worked with charcoal before.
“It was something that I had to get used to,” recalled Paul, who estimated that it took 20 hours to finish her project. “I had more experience with colored pencils. I had to be more patient with it (charcoal).”
To Paul’s surprise, McGrimley asked her to submit the drawing to CAW. After being chosen as a finalist, Paul liked that her family was able to come to the debut show on April 15. Paul’s sister Ceara also works on art at ACES Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) in New Haven.
“It is very cool. When she has an art show, it is held across the street from the Creative Arts Workshop,” stated Paul. “Ceara and I differ in some of our activities, so it is great that we share this one. She is very proud of me.”
Along with working on industrial material, Paul has enjoyed finding other subjects for her art. Last year, she got to draw a pair of her field hockey shoes.
“I love field hockey, so it was great to combine that with my art,” explained Paul, who will play her favorite sport at Skidmore College in New York.
In the past, Paul has viewed art as more of a hobby, but this year’s experience has made her interested in doing more charcoal drawings.
“I really like how you can express yourself as an artist,” stated Paul.
While Paul is graduating next month, Curran still looks forward to learning for two more years at CHS. She admits that it is hard to balance school and being a three-sport athlete in cross country, track, and tennis, but Curran has signed up for an art credit next year. Down the road, she is interested in taking an AP art course.
“I love that I get to relax and put color on the paper,” explained Curran, of drawing a subject. “I don’t have to worry about anything else.”