AP Art: College Board meets creative minds

Douglas Pardella

As the days until winter break quickly tick down and Austin Potter’s Dec. 21 deadline rapidly approaches, he attempts to be as intricate as possible while he finishes painting the untamed cat’s menacing, dark spots that are surrounded by a surreal orange. As he dabbles with different colors, he finds himself constantly checking the clock then quickening the strokes of his brush as his 12 piece portfolio due date looms over his head.

The 20-student AP Art class, which consists of juniors and seniors, boasts exclusivity through its applications process that requires a college-level eight-piece portfolio.

Lisa France
Lisa France

Once admitted, students are expected to perform at college level while producing quality work at a rapid pace.

“They are graded on understanding the elements and principles of design and artistic intelligence,” Karen Meadows, a Redwood teacher said. “Basically, skill,” she added with a chuckle. “They’re usually really good artists when they are in AP Art.”

The first semester curriculum consists of different assignments that aim to build the artists skill including breadth, composition, figure drawing, and observational drawing.

For the second semester, each artist uses the skills that they have acquired and takes on a concentration that they will expand on for the rest of the year.

“My concentration is going to be famous scenes in literature: hipster version,” said Lisa France, another AP Art senior. “That’s going to be really fun, like the hipster ‘Last Supper’ is one that I’m really excited about.”

Potter said that he is choosing a much different second semester path.

“A lot of [my inspiration] comes from animals, especially leopards. That’s probably going to be my concentration,” Potter said. “As well as Alice in Wonderland. I have a book with all the illustrations and my work and a lot of my inspiration comes from that book.”

AP Art allows students to explore several different mediums of art and through this experimentation, a favorite type will emerge.

Though Potter’s favorite medium is painting, he enjoys watercolor the most. “I did experiment with acrylic, and pencil, and charcoal, and chalk, and pastel before, but it wasn’t until I experimented with watercolor that I got the control that I wanted.”

After 40 years in the trade, Meadows knows when she encounters an art student with a real gift.

“Talent is a difficult word to use. It’s someone who has a passion,” Meadows said. “That passion usually displays itself as an interest that is a burning desire to do art inside and outside of school. It’s like you’ve got to do it, like you’ve got to eat. You have to do art.”