AP Art of the Week

Spotlight on Artist Lisa Tran

The Elective’s digital art museum this week features an illustration made by Lisa Tran from D'Iberville Senior High School in D'Iberville, Mississippi.

Welcome to The Elective’s digital art museum, dedicated to the incredible work of AP Arts students. Each week we highlight a work or series created in one of the AP Arts concentrationsAP 2-D Art and Design, 3-D Art and Design, and AP Drawing (the AP Program also offers Art History and Music Theory)—as well as a statement from the artist (and, occasionally, their teacher).

From the first cave paintings to contemporary breakthroughs in virtually reality, art, in all its forms, has been a crucial way for people to process, make sense of, comment on, and grapple with the world around them. After more than a year of life in a pandemic, AP Art students have risen to the challenge of processing and making sense of the challenges—and opportunities—that have come from this perilous time. The work they submitted in their final portfolios is explicitly of the moment. It’s often challenging and provocative, but always insightful, inspiring, and expansive.

This week we feature an illustration made by Lisa Tran from D'Iberville Senior High School in D'Iberville, Mississippi.

Illustration of a young woman with her head resting on her arms, seated against a row of houses, with the young woman as large as a house

Here’s Lisa’s statement on the work:

“This work is called ‘The Unusual House.’ It was guided by the question of how tainted beauty can show emotions.

“I want the piece to invoke a sense of loneliness when the subject tries to fit in with the other houses. It makes the subject feel out of place. I created the piece with alcohol markers, colored pencils, and ink. I tried to achieve certain textures and colors by using many layers. My inspiration comes from my love for nature and colors. I usually study multiple artists’ works that I admire and get inspired to create my own work. I often get inspired.

“Over the years, I learned that I should focus on drawing what I like while trying to take risks. My teacher encourages us to draw what we like and pushes us to try new materials and mediums. It helps me learn what I’m capable of doing. For any upcoming AP Art and Design students, I believe that you should start off drawing anything you like and slowly branch out to new things.”

Here’s Lisa’s teacher Mandy Upton on Lisa’s work:

“Lisa Tran is unlike any student I have taught in the last 19 years. She has this artistic drive that is just purely inspiring. Watching Lisa create daily allows you to see what true passion for art is. When she gets an idea in her head, she will practice it over and over in her sketchbook. I am not talking about a little, I am talking about pages upon pages of practice, thumbnails, color swatches, and experimentation. She has this amazing skill to envision a scene and make it come to life through skillfully drawing it out and adding multiple layers of colors and mediums to create a well-balanced composition that will blow you away when she is finished. Her portfolio was a stunning example of soft colors, strong figures, and amazing compositions filled with lots of experimentation.

“Lisa fits the example for AP Art, and because of that, her classmates were able to see the continuous cycle of research, experimentation, reflection, and completed pieces. When students were almost finished, we would critique each piece as a class. This gave students time to reflect on what others said and revise if needed. Before moving on to another piece, students wrote about each finished piece; therefore, when it came time to upload to AP, they had everything they needed.”

And here are a few other works from Lisa’s portfolio:

Painting of a young woman asleep in a forest

Paint and experiment with modeling paste to emphasize roughness of the water to show movement.

Painting of a young woman, as tall as a house, walking through streets at night

Inked, added liquid frisket to the white areas, and experimented paint with salt to create textures.

Round painting of a crying woman caressed by a skeleton

Painted, stitched flowers, and use dark cool colors with soft warm colors to create a soft dark mood.

Painting of a young woman in a fantasy scene of doves and wind and elements

Experiment wet on wet to create soft background and use patterns to contrast hope and fear in fabric.

Painting of a young Black woman with purple hair, looking down while walking in a forest at night

Experiment paper quilling to show movement of clouds and create texture in sky to show uncertainty.

Black and white illustration of a young woman

Show how the burden on one shoulder can grow and take over us. Practice the thickness of the lines and experiment patterns to show depth and value.

Painting of two young woman, moving in opposite directions from a common central point, with a tree of flowers growing between them

The disconnection of a people that contrast real self and fake self. Experiment textures with watercolor and create movement with ink and watercolor to create landscape.

Student and teacher statements are lightly edited for length and clarity.