-by Arielle Blacklow- Remember preschool – being handed a large sheet of rough green construction paper that you would attempt to scrawl on with a thick black marker, and somehow, inevitably, the marker would end up on your face? Like most of us, Emma Pan ’17 was left with streaks of marker on her face in preschool. However, attempting to draw little lopsided doodles and misshapen stick figures was fascinating to her and was where she ultimately found her passion. At age four, she was already going to art classes, where she would eventually explore the art of still life, portrait drawing, and abstract drawing. Although Emma claimed, “I was probably never the most skilled artist,” she strived to improve and to make her drawings meaningful. For example, for one assignment she drew a soda can holding wilting flowers to symbolize the effects of industrialization on the environment. Her inspiration came from a teacher that once told her, “It’s not how much skill you have that matters – it’s the idea. Skill is just the vessel for getting your idea onto paper.” By taking this advice to heart, Emma came to understand what drawing meant to her and how best to express her talent. Nevertheless, while Emma has certainly has become an accomplished artist, she definitely went through her share of struggles.
During the years in which she took classes, Emma hit a stage in which she became a perfectionist. It would take her up to nine hours to finish a drawing, and for a portrait she would erase noses, lips, and eyes countless times. Emma was plagued by the thought that “the more you learn, the more you realize that you still have a lot left to learn;” however, as she got older, the number of times she had to redraw her pictures lessened. Reflecting, Emma said, “I changed my goal a while ago from “perfection” to “improvement” because I realized that perfect would always be extremely far away (unless you were Leonardo da Vinci) and that one can get better much faster with personal improvement in mind instead.”
Although, after eleven years, Emma had to sacrifice drawing lessons when her high school schedule became too busy, she promised, “to keep drawing for as long as I can keep coming up with ideas, which will probably be for the rest of my life.” The thoughts and images that she felt needed to be expressed on paper were what mainly propelled Emma to pursue her passion.
Emma invites you to take a minute to put pen to paper, despite your busy schedules, and to leave behind a memory. As of now, Emma is working on drawing a horse for the Chinese New Year and will take art as an extra elective in addition to Chorale this semester at school. The Panel also encourages you to check out Emma’s work and follow her at “@emmas_art_” on Instagram!
Images courtesy of Emma Pan