Tender Realism
by Nicole White
March & April 2001

Young Masters, the Advanced Placement Student Art Competion at the big art museum downtown through April 22, 2001. There are 32 pieces in the show, but one stands out:

Tender Realism at the DMA

Plano Senior High School student Nicole White's prismacolor pencil drawing of her sister primpingIn The Mirror in their bathroom is lovely, soft, inense and tenderly realistic. We see her from the side in real and from the front in the mirror. She has on a marvelously wrinkled T-shirt with gentle shadow colors, bare midriff with black pants and a exquisitely (twice) rendered, questioning face.

The drawing is very three-dimensional, but subtily so. The figure is rendered in lilting tonal detail, except her hands, which are in a mangle atop her head, futzing with her hair. The bathroom, as the artist states in the inevitable artist's statement, was drawn "in a more light-handed way than I drew the figure images, so as to let it fade appropriately into the background."

It does not, however, fade, although there is a perceptible contrast of figure and field textures and tone. There's plenty of rendered detail and light, scribbled tonalities and recognizable shapes back there. We know those shapes, of course, and they fit easily in place and carefully separate from the double foreground figures. The older sister is soft, rounded, and delicately shaded. Her elbow is a little sharp and elongated — poking into our direct view, but this drawing is so perfect in so many ways the other work in the DMA's FINA Gallery are not, It's unselfconsciously artistic.

Unlike most of the other pieces in this student show — each accompanied by a fatuous, "I was so impressed with such and such artist at the museum," artist's statemment, this one fine drawing is not copied in style or form from anything outside the artist's life. It's beautiful and near perfect. Brava!  - JRC

Special thanks to Jeanne Chvosta at the DMA for not only returning my calls but getting me into the museum with a tripod and camera. I only wish my now ancient digital camera had an auto white balance. My pix are hand-tweaked for color and may not perfectly represent actual colors of work — especially this one. — JRC

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