Drawing with the pros

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Portrait painter and art instructor Steve Ko visited H105 on Friday during fourth period to teach art students how to paint the human head through a live acrylic painting demonstration of junior Emma Varela.   

“When I was in high school, this was something I was hoping for; a professional artist coming into my classroom and showing the real stuff and their life story, their struggles,” Ko said. “So, that got me into this, and now I’m offering this for free to high school students. If I can inspire one student each time I go somewhere, I think my job is done.” 

Under the lights and in front and center of a classroom full of her peers, Varela didn’t let the nerves stop her from the chance at a unique experience to learn from a professional. 

Aaron Boehmer
Taking shape, professional artist Steve Ko continues to paint the smaller details on his work inspired by junior Emma Varela.

“It felt kind of cool being the model,” she said. “It’s weird having someone draw you, but it’s also interesting to see how people depict you. When Ms. Fallon offered me the opportunity, I jumped at it. How he was talking about my features and stuff like that helps me realize how I should be drawing people in my art.” 

With some of her own students taking lessons from him outside of school, art teacher Pernie Fallon was familiar with Ko’s work for several years and believed having him on campus would be beneficial to aspiring artists. 

“Throughout the years several of my students have taken lessons from him, but I finally met him last year at VASE,” Fallon said. “He was doing a demo for students who went to state VASE, so I sat in on his demo. I just thought that it’d be such a good experience for the Liberty art students to get to experience.”  

AP Drawing student, junior Catherine Tong believed the demonstration to be both entertaining and engaging. 

Aaron Boehmer
With students surrounding him, professional artist Steve Ko paints a portrait on campus on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019.

“I had never seen a live demonstration before, it was really fun because he was funny too,” Tong said. “I got to see a lot of different processes that I didn’t know went into painting, which was really cool to look at in real life. I think it’ll help me with how I follow my drawing because I also want to do painting.” 

The experience also connected with AP Art History student, junior Chloe Zonis, who recognized the evolution of Ko’s style in historical context.  

“I would say that being in art history helped me understand what he was talking about more,” Zonis said. “His style went from more realistic to impressionist, and although we haven’t gotten to impressionism yet, I know what that is and I can see the similarities and influences in his art compared to other people’s art.”