CFHS artist explores expressive environments in her AP portfolio


photo courtesy of Clara Ives

Over the course of a year, AP art students hone in on one essential question that guides their entire body of work.

For junior Clara Ives, her portfolio focuses on how someone’s perspective can change their environment and surroundings.

“A lot of the environment that a person is in usually reflects their emotions that are on their face or their body language,” Ives explained.

First taking Drawing 1 and Painting 1 her freshman year, Ives’ experience has culminated into expanding her AP Drawing portfolio this year. Although she initially didn’t expect to take AP, she has loved making art throughout her entire life.

“I always knew that I enjoyed art. I would draw in the corners of my homework, but I never really took it seriously or tried to improve it until COVID. In early high school, I was getting more constructed classes, so I really started enjoying it more,” Ives shared.

Her teacher, Mrs. Jill Eisert, appreciates Ives’ enthusiasm in the classroom.

“Clara is really fun to work with everyday. She just has a very lighthearted spirit in class and I think that shows in her work,” Mrs. Eisert said. “I’ve always really appreciated how Clara can be really independent. She kind of intuitively can take what we talked about and make it her own. And I think if you’ve met Clara, I think her whole spirit is very evident. What Clara is like in person is very similar to the spirit that she brings into her paintings themselves.”

Ives’ work incorporates gestural backgrounds with light brushstrokes and carefully honed figures with expressive colors. Although she initially tried colored pencils, she began to realize her love for oil painting throughout the year as she gravitated towards large scale pieces. Despite her passion for art, she sometimes struggles to keep up with the workload.

“It’s hard coming up with ideas after sticking with [AP Drawing] for a year. It’s hard to put up with that, put up with homework, and resist burnout,” Ives shared.

In her current painting, Ives explores these worries as she uses dry brush techniques to depict a figure surrounded by candles. 

“I’m currently working on a piece with two figures holding matches and around them are burnt-out candles. It represents changing your environment to make it better and resisting burnout,” Ives explained.

Junior Isabel Nerpouni also takes AP Drawing with Ives and enjoys the creativity in each of Ives’ pieces. 

“My favorite thing about Clara’s art is the colorful stylization hinted within almost every piece. The lighting is usually from a unique, honed in source within the bounds of her art, and any pigment it gives off is highlighted beautifully within each piece, adding notable elements of saturation and pop that draws the eye,” Nerpouni described.

Ives wants to continue taking art classes into her senior year, and she hopes that in the future, she will keep making art even when it’s not for a grade.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned in art classes is that I think really unstructured-ly, and I think in ways that don’t really compute well in writing down,” Ives shared. “I feel like it has really helped me translate my thoughts into a visual medium so I can express my thoughts better.”