CREATE at Marion County Library

CREATE is a yearly event held at the Marion County Library. It’s a day of creative arts featuring the work of local high school students. This year’s celebration took place on Saturday, November 10, at the library’s main headquarters in Ocala, Florida. I had the honor to serve as a judge for the visual arts competition. Some of this year’s entrants demonstrated impressive maturity in their work, showcasing strong visual talents in people so young. All of these young artists should be proud of their achievements.

Being a judge for this event proved both a challenge and a visual stimulant for me. It opened my eyes to possible new directions and themes for my own art. It also brought back to mind media I once had used but had placed on the back burner. One is never too old to learn, and it’s exciting when we learn from young people: youth + creative input = exciting new works.

In my opinion, drawing is the “backbone” of all creative visual expressions. It all starts with a line! If you can’t draw properly, how in the world can you paint with oil or acrylics? Drawing took center stage at this year’s CREATE competition, with many unique and polished pieces that showed attention to detail in the finished results. Some would be worthy of consideration in future juried competitions.

I also loved the creative use of materials this year. One piece, which depicted a bridge scene clearly set in Paris, had a background that glowed with a subtle aura and gave this small painting a strong, highly desirable light-and-dark drama. At first glance I thought the artist had used day-glow paint until I got up close and personal and realized she had positioned battery-operated mini-lights behind her painting to produce this effect. She didn’t puncture the canvas, but rather had the lights rest behind it, producing a most desirable and unusual effect. Her ingenuity and use of materials impressed me, and certainly pushed the “creative” buttons in my head.

Another artist designed a tableau that featured a garden figure clad in roses and looked almost as if it was coming out of a planter. Installation and three-dimensional art are a big part of my own creative expression, and this piece was right up my alley. The detail and use of materials was spot on. I think this young person could have a career in the arts; she definitely has talent, imagination, and vision.

Three-dimensional “installations” take into account the environment in which the piece is set. They often incorporate re-purposed materials that add nuance to the overall display. Visual settings like this are rare, mainly because most people think of art as something you hang on a wall. When an artist takes into account materials, placement, and over-all impact, it makes an interesting and unique statement. We need more of this.

I commend these students. My Saturday morning was filled with new ideas, new directions, and new talents. Congratulations to all. You ARE the future of our art world.