Monthly Archives: January 2013

Featured Student Artist: Brandon Miller



bmillBrandon Miller is a first grader attending Stilson Elementary School in Georgia.  His art, “Dad Fishing“, was selected as a Top Ten Winner in the Summer 2012 national art contest.  This means that Brandon’s art was one of the ten best pieces submitted throughout the United States and Canada.

Brandon’s favorite art activities include drawing, making things out of clay, and stop motion animations with his Legos.  “Dad Fishing” was created with acrylic paints on canvas.  Brandon’s inspiration for this piece came from memories of his dad going fishing with his friend out in the river.  As with this winning piece, Brandon enjoys creating art from things he knows.

In the future, Brandon hopes to continue to grow his artistic talents and become a racecar driver or a police officer.

To learn more about our national art contests, please visit


Great Artists Take Risks


220px-Nick_cave Recently I attended an on stage interview of Nick Cave who is a performance artist that is the director of the graduate fashion program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Nick has traveled throughout the world showing his creations that mix art with performance.  There are many Youtube links to see the fantastic things he has done.  Take a look.  He is now world famous for his creations.  They are unique.  After the interview they opened up the audience to questions.  I asked Nick if there was any trepidation to his emerging with this new medium.  His reply was that for a while he created his art and they stayed in his apartment.  Then bit by bit he shared it with others and a new art form emerged for which he is famous. There was risk involved.

shapeimage_3In thinking of the students who participate in our contests and the thousands of other artists or poets who don’t send in their work, I realize there is always a risk in sharing your work with others.  “What if they think my work isn’t good?”  “What if they laugh at me?”  Yes, there is always that possibility.  However, there is always the possibility of being accepted to be published and people thinking “Wow.  Their work is great.”  No risk…no gain.  Nick Cave could have hid his work in fear of what others would think.  Instead he shared it and is loved throughout the world.  I think all art has an element of risk.  Take a chance.  Share it with the world.

—Tom Worthen, Ph.D., Editor

To learn more about our national art contests, visit

To learn more about our national writing contests, visit

Featured Student Artist: Kayleigh Semeniuk


art-num-341835624as Art has always been a part of Kayleigh’s life.  At age three she was drawing circles instead of the squiggly lines more commonly seen in a young child’s artwork.  By the time she was eleven she was taking lessons with a fantastic realism artist, Tami Hort.  What she thought would be one year of lessons turned into four years of one-on-one teaching as Tami guided her through many different forms of art; including acrylics, oils, watercolors, and pastels, plus a rather unsuccessful but nevertheless entertaining attempt at clay sculpture.

Kayleigh took home her first award when she was only thirteen.  This award came from an international contest called the Calgary Stampede’s Western Showcase.  After this win, Kayleigh knew she could make it in the art world.  Art was no longer just a hobby.

After her family moved Kayleigh could no longer continue lessons with Tami, so Kayleigh set on a journey to discover a style of her own.  In recent years Kayleigh has come to realize her love for drawing the human face.  Actors, musicians, hockey players; Kayleigh thrives on the challenge of capturing a person’s likeness on paper.

One of Kayleigh’s most recent victories was being announced as a Top Ten Winner in the Summer 2012 national art contest.  Her piece, “Lost in a Senator’s Thoughts“, was chosen out of thousands of entries as one of the ten best in the United States and Canada.  Her inspiration for this piece came about by a friend.

8132552“I had drawn Padmè Amidala from the movie Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones back in 2010, and while the finished drawing was ok, I knew I’d want to do another one in a few years.” Kayleigh explains, “So when my friend asked if could I draw Padmè for him, I took the chance to do another attempt at her, never thinking that it may end up being a winning piece. My friends and family inspire me to keep on drawing. Without them, like friends who request drawings, I’d have a hard time picking up a pencil and put as many hours as I do into my artwork.”

Kayleigh’s plans for the future include going to CATO (a digital arts school) where she wants to graduate with a graphic design degree, and combine digital art with traditional.  She also wants to eventually meet the band U2 and present the members with drawings.  Her most important goal is for her relationship with God to grow deeper, her walk with Him longer and stronger, and to paint things of the Kingdom.

To view Kayleigh’s website, visit view Kayleigh’s Fine Art America page, visit here.

To learn more about our national art contests, go to

Featured Student Artist: David Hwang



David is an 8th grader at Odle Middle School in Washington and studies art at InDesign Academy.  His art, “Butterfly Rest“, was selected as a Top Ten Winner in our Summer 2012 national art contest.

A typical week for David involves golf, piano, competition math, SAT sessions, college application practice, computer programming, painting, sketching, and photography lessons.  Phew!  (And only 14 years old!)  Of all these activities, art lets David take a break from all of the stress accumulated throughout the week.

When asked what inspired David’s piece, he responded:

art-num-245026217“For a while through my childhood, I never thought art was an inherent activity for me. In fact, in my early childhood, I really had no interest in art at all. Even right now, I don’t remember a single moment in my early childhood where I actually wanted to draw. Somewhere in 3rd grade, the idea of art sort of stuck to me, and soon enveloped into a growing passion, a passion that is still growing as I speak. Honestly, the painting ‘Butterfly Rest’ was an experiment, an adventure into the unknown. Before ‘Butterfly Rest’ I was addicted to the idea of abstract art. Abstract thoughts, fantasies intrigued me, as I drew a human heads with gaping holes, spewing out clock heads and light bulbs, and a cereal bowl filled with national monuments. I was hesitant towards the idea of realistic art, especially the idea of “Butterfly Rest”. However, someday in May, I decided to break this mold. It was a day when I was lying recumbent on a pool chair in my backyard, while reading the New Yorker, in the somewhat hot Washington sun. It was like any lazy day, until when my mom bombarded me with the question, ‘Why does your artwork not make any sense?’ Personally I was baffled, and I choked on a slurp of a fruit smoothie. It finally struck me. Not a single person understood the idea behind my work. I pondered over this question, soon deciding to look for an inspiration for a ‘realistic’ piece. Taking my camera, I took a walk in the garden, looking for things that caught my idea.

After taking a considerable amount of photos, I went back to my pool chair. Skipping over multiple pictures of my mom’s flowers, the view of Mt. Rainier, and a partial picture of a birds head, I finally landed upon my mom’s eggplant, with two butterflies. What made me choose this photo over the others was the sense of peace it evoked, the sense of rest and harmony. What made me paint it was because it was horribly out of focus. After gathering multiple pictures containing butterflies, with similar patterns and colors, along with pictures of the eggplant, I started working on the painting. I specifically chose one section of the eggplant because I didn’t want to make it look too complicated, and I took the light turquoise color from Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings, as it seemed to match harmoniously with the eggplant and butterflies to create the peaceful environment I was aiming for. I finished painting, and I was extremely pleased with the result.”

Ever since creating this winning piece, David has continued to grow his passion for art into the realistic category.  “Butterfly Rest” also gave David the inspiration to pursue mixed ideas, integrating both realist and abstract aspects.  The largest goal David is pursuing right now is to expand his ideas more into the category of realism, while still having a balance between both abstract and realistic ideas.

To learn more about our national art contest, please visit