By Bianca Ruiz
Senior Tatum Tanner sits down in her room with a large sketchbook laid out in front of her. A blank canvas stares back at her, calling her to press the tip of her pencil onto it and move it freely to create the basic shapes and outlines for a piece that she envisions in her head. As she sits there, her hand guiding the pencil onto the thick sketchbook paper, an image slowly comes up from the page.
Tanner began her artistic journey from the moment she was able to lift a pencil and draw a straight line. Each day she would grab a pencil and sheet of paper, letting her hand create straighter lines, perfect circles, images of trees and people. Each day her technique improved and each drawing became more spectacular than the next.
As middle school approached, Tanner’s passion was only beginning to form. She had no idea that as she grew older, art would be an important part of her everyday life.
Tanner, determined to learn more about the world of art, enrolled herself into every art class that her middle school had to offer, though there was not a wide variety.
Tanner’s grandmother, the biggest fan of her artwork, noticed her granddaughter’s talents and enrolled her into the Mission Renaissance (MR) art studio, a program that taught children from kindergarten to 16 years old how to channel their creativity and produce masterpieces.
Tanner enrolled in MR during the sixth grade, which meant that she was a late starter and behind most of the students in her classes. However, Tanner was fueled by determination, proving herself to be a fast learner, surprising her professors with her ability to catch up and create pieces that exceeded her years.
MR focused on teaching its students about classical art, drawing from the likes of Michelangelo, Vincent Van Gogh, and Edvard Munch. The school also ensured that each student was classically trained in charcoals, watercolors, oil paints, and pastels.
A few of Tanner’s favorite artists come from the classical era, a testament to her influence from MR.
When Tanner’s four years at MR ended, her ability to use different mediums had greatly improved, and her hard work and attention to detail manifested in the new pieces that she produced.
“I often tell people, ‘I wouldn’t know what to do if I lost my left hand.’ Art has become as much a part of me as another limb, and I don’t take it for granted,” Tanner said.
While attending Granada Hills Charter High School, Tanner has taken College Preparatory drawing and advanced drawing, and she is currently enrolled in Advanced Placement art.
To her, art is not just about putting an idea or design onto paper; it is all about interpretation and the emotions that go into every piece.
“You get this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment once you finish a piece and step back to look at it. I had an aunt, and she loved Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night.’ I personally had stayed away from recreating the painting because I felt that art is about your interpretation, and in order to re-create a piece like that, I needed to figure out my interpretation of it. So before she passed away, I made sure to sit down and create my interpretation, and to this day, it’s one of my favorite pieces,” Tanner said.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see,” French painter Edgar Degas once said, a statement Tanner upholds wholeheartedly.
She isn’t just drawn to art due to the feeling of individual accomplishment, but also the ability to produce an emotional response from those for whom she creates. She feels the most accomplished when she hands a finished piece to a friend or family member. Their faces brighten up when she manages to capture what they were envisioning in their heads, often triggering deeper and more personal feelings.
Although her dream is to become a full time artist in the future, Tanner understands that this occupation is highly challenging. Thus, her goal is to minor in business and major in advertising, a field that will allow her to create and direct advertisements for different companies, showcasing her artistic eye.
Tanner doesn’t plan on ending her journey with art anytime soon. She wants new and upcoming artists to know that it is all about being consistent and diligent.
“Art can be a long process, and you will see progression. Whether it is little or big, you will always advance with each day so you can’t give up. If I didn’t work each day to get better, my art wouldn’t look the way it does today,” Tanner said.
Watch The Plaid Press’ interview with Tanner here.