Lake Zurich High School Student Media

Bear Facts

Lake Zurich High School Student Media

Bear Facts

Lake Zurich High School Student Media

Bear Facts

Painting the picture: an inside look at AP art

While many students take Advanced Placement (AP) courses during their high school career, very few move on to take AP Art Studio, a highly demanding and time intensive course where students spend hours in and out of class working to finish a piece every week.

Rather than taking a traditional test at the end of the year like most AP classes, students create a portfolio throughout the year for submission to the AP Board in May.

“We send in a portfolio with twenty-nine pieces to the Board of Education for the AP Art program and they go through it,” Nicole Rajski, senior AP Art student, said. “We send them five pieces they can physically touch and look at and then the rest are pictures of pieces.”

The class, which has only ten students this year, works all year in order to meet the deadline in May. Students start with a theme and then develop it throughout their works all year in the medium of choice.

“Regardless of the portfolio type students choose I try to emphasize the importance of finding inspiration in their lives through many sources,” Matthew Winkelman, AP Art teacher, said. “I try to get them to spend at least ten minutes every day looking for inspiration, and I find the students who do generally have the best portfolios and the most well developed themes.”

Picking a theme, however, was not a challenge for Rajski, who incorporated both of her passions together in her theme.

“I chose human anatomy as my theme. I’ve always been interested in the human body, so my art has always been based on people and of people and I started to develop my theme more when I realized I wanted to go into nursing,” Rajski said.

Figuring out a theme is just the beginning though, as students must work to fully develop a piece in only a week. With projects due every Friday, the pace of the class can be hard to keep up with, Rajski said.

“For me it’s difficult, I like to put a lot of effort and quality into my pieces,” Rajski said. “I take my pieces home a lot of the time and work on them as much as I can. I can’t even give you a number [of hours], just as much as I can.”

While the class is very demanding, Rajski believes it will help her in the future.

“It’s very rigorous and it’s very difficult but it’s so worth it,” Rajski said. “My work is all about the human anatomy, so it kind of gives me an advantage because I’ll know the anatomy inside and out from my work in art.”

While Rajski does not plan to major in art, she may still minor in it, she says. Sarah Frommelt, another senior in AP art, has also based her theme on her plans for the future.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a video game concept artist.” Frommelt said. “I’ve been drawing video game covers since I was a little kid and it’s kind of been in me. I want to go to [Northern Illinois University] next year and major in illustration.”

Frommelt­­ hopes her work this year will help her further her art career later on.

“I hope I’ll be able to develop my skills more through my year in this class and hopefully be prepared for college art classes,” Frommelt said. “I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better already so I think I’ll be ready.”

The class is meant to prepare students for a future in art, according to the College Board website. Winkelman agrees with this goal and believes the class does help students develop tremendously.

“Many of my past students have told me that this is the hardest class they have ever taken, but they also say it’s the most rewarding,” Winkelman said. “When they look back on their work from the end of the year to the beginning they’re always surprised by how much their art has changed and improved.”

He believes reflection and critique of previous works is the best way to develop as an artist.

“The kids have to go back and write a reflection about each of their pieces for a grade, and I think this helps them avoid some of the pitfalls they might have had in the past,” Winkelman said. “Like if a student is trying to achieve a certain feel from a piece and can’t, they look back and realize why and maybe they can get closer to creating that feeling next time.

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