College student Mary Von Holten, of Sedalia, has found her calling in creating art and pursuing a degree in graphic arts at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Von Holten, a 2011 graduate of Smith-Cotton High School, enjoys drawing with mixed media and chalk pastels. She will graduate from UMSL with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in graphic design in December.
“It actually started in high school,” she said of her love for art. “I started off doing the basic class of Art I with Mr. (Joshua) Heimsoth. I wanted to continue something through high school, they say you do better if you have something to counteract your academics.”
She added that she’d received complements on her drawings and that she wasn’t “musically inclined” so pursuing art was a logical choice.
“I prefer drawing and I like doing mixed media,” she said. “I had a painting class in high school, but it just never picked up with me.”
She doesn’t have a specific subject matter that she enjoys, but does like observing distinctive facial features.
“At UMSL we’re required to take different traditional drawing classes,” she said. “The drawing classes are still life and the and figure drawing is the (human) figure. I’ve enjoyed both of my classes, it’s easier to do still life because they don’t move. I have an attraction to objects that have a shine to them, like bottles and tea kettles. I like high contrast.”
One her favorite drawings was a portrait created as a gift for her aunt and uncle Paul and Marilyn Griffitt, of Warsaw, who have been married almost 57 years.
“My aunt and uncle started going through a little bit of a tougher time, with my uncle’s health,” Von Holten said. “I wanted to cheer them up in some way because he was having a lot of down days …”
Paul Griffitt is fighting cancer and was going through treatments, so she wanted to draw something for the couple that would bring a smile again to their faces. Von Holten took an old photo of the couple and drew a portrait from it for them for their upcoming 57th wedding anniversary in October.
“Originally I was going to do a single picture of just him, then I thought, ‘well no, my aunt is going through a hard time too, so I’m going to include her as well,’” Von Holten said. “It was my first time to draw two people free-handed. I think I started that drawing over about three times. I have two other sketches of them laying in my house.”
The graphite drawing took a week to complete.
“They were very happy,” she said. “I gave it to them right after his chemo treatment, he was really excited about that. I’m just very happy they enjoyed it; that’s the whole point.”
She hopes to work on commission at some point, but hasn’t found time to while attending college, although she enjoys drawing and giving the pieces away as gifts as she did for her aunt and uncle.
“When I have free time, I don’t mind drawing,” she added. “I always just randomly draw for people as random acts of kindness.”
She finds the form and structure of facial features fascinating.
“When I’m learning how to draw portraits, I’m looking for people who have certain facial features,” she noted. “I try to do things I’ve never done before. I’ve never drawn a baby before, so I wanted to try drawing the softness of the baby. I’m getting ready to work on a portrait of an older women who has wrinkles, and I’ve never done wrinkles before. I like testing my own skills.”
After graduating from UMSL she plans to venture into a digital art career.
“I’m more into digital art now, just because that seems to be where it’s been progressing in finding jobs,” she said. “I do like branding or package design, I find that pretty interesting. I have an internship right now through my college. I’m working as a media marketing coordinator through the (UMSL) Residential Life there.”
She creates promotion advertisements for the university.
“It helps me finish up my graphic design credits,” she added.
Von Holten said she plans to come back to the area after graduating.
“I actually found out I’m not much of a city person,” she added. “St. Louis is great, but it’s too big. I’m hoping to stay in the Central Missouri area. Maybe wander to the Kansas City area. I don’t have the dreams of working with the big-shots in a big firm, I’m totally comfortable with small places and small businesses. I like drawing; it’s a hobby that turned into a degree.”
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.