A stroke of inspiration

Sophomore wins Superintendent Award for work displayed at LISD art show


Daniela Perez

Sophomore Karen Chen paints a portrait during her third period art class. “When I was younger, I didn’t know what I wanted to pursue,” Chen said. “[Art] was one of the few things I enjoyed, [and] my friends were saying I was good at [it], so I said, ‘Why not just pursue something I might be good at in the future?’”

A concrete fence surrounds the patio of a sand-colored café with white arched doorways amid a blue sky.

The café is located on a canvas in a city of watercolor, painted by stroke of hand.

Sophomore Karen Chen won the Superintendent Award for her café paintings displayed at the annual LISD art show at Lewisville Grand Theater, where it will be until March 18.

Two weeks before the show, teachers from all across the district submitted high-quality student-made artwork for jurors to pick 100 for the art show. Chen first found out about her award from her ninth grade art teacher, Ross Hines, and her current one, Caleb Jacks,  delivered the prize certificate and check of $75 during her art class on Feb. 24.

 “I was very proud of her,” Hines said “She can use any medium and create something polished and professional.”

Hines submitted a charcoal drawing Chen made of her sister for the annual Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) competition last year — which made it to the state level — and Jacks submitted a café piece Chen made with watercolor for a landscape assignment, the piece that won the award.

Two of Chen’s artworks were submitted to the art show. One of them was a charcoal drawing of her sister while the other one, which won the Superintendent Award, was a café painting. “I wanted to paint the landscape because I wanted to practice my watercolor skills and enhance the things I need to work on,” Chen said. (Photo via High School Facebook)












Chen has been drawing for years, but said she started working hard to improve her art in seventh grade when she enrolled in the Hull Art Academy outside of school. In eighth grade, Chen signed up for art classes at Killian Middle School.

“A lot of my friends [said] I was good at art,” Chen said. “I wanted to pursue something I might be good at in the future, [and though] I don’t think I’ll become a [professional] artist, I think I’ll use my art skills to go into animation or illustration.”

Chen has had the most experience with oil paintings, portraits and using warm colors. Since starting high school, she has learned to use charcoal and, now, watercolor. 

“[Karen’s] constantly working on her art projects; everytime I turn around there’s something new on her painting,” Chen’s classmate sophomore Ally Gladson said. “The way she holds her brushes — that’s how I now hold my brushes because it really helps apply the paint in a smooth way.”

Chen said participating in the show was a learning experience for her.

“It boosted my confidence,” Chen said. “I wasn’t good at [using watercolor] at first, but through trial and error, I got the hang of it.”