BEHIND THE PORTFOLIO: Senior shows effects of pollution on sea life through watercolors

AP Studio Art students chose their own concentration and created a series of pieces. They submitted digital and physical portfolios to the College Board on May 6. In this series, the artists discuss the year-long endeavor and share some of their pieces.

Next is senior Elinor Hilton. 

Q: What was your concentration?

A: My concentration was based on water and sea animals, how pollution and humans have affected them in a negative light.

How I portrayed that was by using black watercolor to do my animals, and for the two of my fish (themed) ones there’s an eye crying in the fish, which kind of symbolizes it, and another one with koi fish with cuts in them. Progressing throughout it, it goes from that dark look to more vibrant colors and more pretty stuff like that, showing the future.

Q: Why did you choose it?

A: Both of my parents are from Florida, and we have a condo that is right on the beach; we visit around four times a year. I’ve always loved water and nature, so I’ve always been big on advocating things like taking care of the environment and animals and such.

Q: What media did you use?  

A: I used watercolor concentrate, and alcohol for the background, and just watercolor for the animals.

Q: What was the biggest challenge?

A: You can kind of tell in the beginning of my first couple of pieces that, skill-wise, it was kind of difficult because I used solely watercolor, and I had never worked with that medium before. It was a lot harder to get detail and make it look the way I wanted to, but it got easier as I progressed.

Q: How long did it take to do your concentration?

A: We had the whole year, but I didn’t fully understand what I was going to do concentration-wise until about halfway through the year. So that whole time I was working on cranking out pieces.

Q: What’s your style?

A: This helped me create a style, if anything, because I was never really good with anything color-wise, and this forced me to learn how to cooperate with watercolor. So now I’m known for using watercolor, which I was something that I wasn’t before.

Q: What did you learn by doing this project?

A: I definitely learned a lot more techniques – and also how important it is to have an idea because even though I got all my pieces done, there’s definitely a huge gap in time when I would just kind of go with it and see what happened, and I would just totally ruin the piece because I wouldn’t know what I was doing. So I think that it’s important to have a plan.

Q: Had you done anything like this before?

A: This was something that was really new to me. I’d really only done sketchbook stuff, except for in class when (teacher Patricia Kelly) would make us do bigger pieces, and I’ve never done anything outside doing things with just pencil and paper, so this was like a really big change. And keeping a theme was really difficult, but it turned out all right.

Q: Do you have one or two pieces you’re particularly proud of?  

A: One of the two that I am most proud of is the eye that’s crying fish. I think it shows technical skill and detail, and I thought that it was a really creative idea. I liked how it turned out.

The other one was the turtle, and I really like that one because the turtle came out really well with the colors and the background. It’s different from the other ones with the way it’s splashed; it’s just kind of abstract and cool.

Q: Is there a message you’re trying to convey through your concentration?  

A: The pollution with the animals – and bringing that through with the black (that I used). And the colorful background progresses into what a hopeful future could be.

—By Grace Naify

Check out other students’ portfolios: Jake SandsCamille LockeZoe Dym and Isabelle Leavy.

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