Senior artist leaves a mark on CFHS


photo courtesy of Ryan Hill

With the art show approaching on April 20, CFHS students have started to perfect their pieces for display.

Senior Ryan Hill received the Hamlet Gold Award last year at the art show for his painting of a group of dogs and their astronaut owner roaming around a purple planet. This year, Hill has already won two silver keys at the 2023 Scholastic Art Awards. Not only has Hill’s work won multiple awards, but he was also recently accepted into RISD (Rhode Island School of Design).

In his second year of AP art, Hill has enjoyed watching his portfolio grow from his junior year.

“Last year my portfolio was a lot more focused on just oil painting,” Hill said. “A few of my earlier pieces have been just oil painting, but then I’ve tried to change what I’m doing and find ways to combine different mediums to make works more interesting and to just challenge myself as an artist because it forces myself to think of new ways of showing off my ideas and putting meaning behind the work.”

His AP teacher, Mrs. Jill Eisert, has also noticed Hill’s growth in his portfolio this year.

“I think in terms of Ryan’s work last year, I think he fell into a really amazing consistency in his style and getting into these interesting surrealist narratives. I feel like this year seeing Ryan work, he’s really been focusing on really branching into more mixed media, really embracing different types of mark making, and I think his theme has really deepened to become really personally authentic. I think all of those things — the mixed media, the mark making — has kind of related and only elevated his style,” Mrs. Eisert shared.

Ever since Hill’s Drawing 1 class his freshman year, he has appreciated Mrs. Eisert’s guidance as he begins to add the last details to his AP Drawing portfolio.

“She’s my favorite. She’s the best. We were virtual for COVID and she really made sure I was supported and she’s always been a great teacher. She wrote a recommendation letter for me. She’s always been super great at helping me and giving me a space to be creative. She’s so supportive about everything,” Hill explained.

As Hill experiments with printmaking, painting, drawing, and a variety of mediums, one of his favorite pieces he worked on was a drawing that honored his late grandfather who passed over the summer titled “Summer in Ontario”.

“It’s a lot about my grandfather who passed away during the summer. It helped me heal and it was just a nice way to remember him and also do something cool,” Hill shared.

Hill’s portfolio focuses on remembering impactful moments. “I’m dealing a lot with remembering memories and thinking about how the things that impact you, how they make you the person that you are,” Hill explained.

Through surreal narratives, personal touches, and elaborate mock ups, he has created a portfolio that belongs uniquely to him.

“I think a lot of artists try to find what kind of visual language through your mark making really conveys your own sort of personal style,” Mrs. Eisert described. “I feel like even when Ryan started with drawing portraits all the way to where he is right now, his work always has a very specific sort of feel with the way the marks look and the way he kind of builds his drawings. I feel like whenever you look at a piece that Ryan has made, you can always tell it’s his work. I’ve always appreciated that about his style in general, that he’s always held true to his own style of visual language.”

Hill’s classmate, senior Sophia Moffa, has loved seeing Hill experiment more this year in his portfolio.

 “You can really see the detail he’s been able to add and there’s so much more going on in his pieces. It’s really cool to see because it’s very hard to make that work and he does a great job at that,” Moffa said.

Senior Alex Wheatley also enjoys watching Hill build his portfolio from the previous year.

“His pieces are a lot bigger and more detailed. He’s always there working. He’s always worked really hard, but I think this year you can tell he’s super passionate about it,” Wheatley explained.

In his portfolio this year, Hill takes inspiration from artists like Rob Crombie and Elaine de Kooning. Crombie creates surreal landscapes reminiscent of Van Gogh’s paintings with thick brushstrokes while Cooning crafted abstract expressionist paintings of figures and colorful scenes throughout the 20th century. Hill’s portfolio also showcases experimental mark making and surreal narratives. With the inspiration of other artists, he feels more comfortable experimenting within his portfolio this year.

“I definitely find myself finding it easier to come up with works on the same topic. Last year it was more of a struggle but now I know more. And I’m more comfortable in doing more of the technical stuff, like doing the slideshow and doing the writing elements,” Hill shared.

With the AP Drawing deadline approaching on May 5, Hill has started to reflect on how high school has helped him grow as an artist.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is being confident in creating what I want to create — making stuff that’s authentic to me.”