Young artist combines painting and writing

September 13, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Elizabeth Thompson has been a visual artist for as long as she can remember - ever since the 15-year-old Danville High School student was a little kid.

"I've always loved drawing," says Elizabeth. "I like to think up an image and share it with people."

Elizabeth works primarily in acrylics and colored pencils, and likes to draw animals - even magical animals, such as unicorns.

"It always seems like animals can do so much more than people can do," Elizabeth explains. "And fantasy and fiction are some of my favorite things in the whole world."

She has taken her penchant for drawing to mom Lisa's preschool classroom at Lexington Avenue Baptist Church. There, she has painted a birthday train, a window in the "pretend center," a dinosaur scene, and an ocean scene in the bathroom.

"She has helped me tremendously," says her mom, Lisa Thompson. "The kids love it. It's special that she'll take the time and make this pretty. She's made it really fun."


On the birthday train, Lisa Thompson puts up kids' birthdays in the months. An exploding volcano was added to the dinosaur scene. And Elizabeth started the aquatic scene, which is painted on three of the four walls in the bathroom, in June.

"It was all white," she notes. "I thought it was cool and canvas-looking, so I decided to do an ocean scene. A bathroom and water go together.

"I'd never done many ocean animals before. I thought it would be a challenge and fun, and it was. ... The hardest part was painting the ocean - doing the background before putting the animals in."

Interviewed in her mom's classroom, Elizabeth shows three of her paintings, which she says she doesn't title. The first is a unicorn; the second, a wolf. Both are acrylics.

The third is an oil pastel that she painted to match her blue-and-pink room. "It's above my bed."

The wolf painting, the second one she painted, is her favorite, Elizabeth says.

"I wanted to capture the very spirit of the wolf," she explains. "It is very intelligent and calm, and seems omniscient, almost. That's what I was trying to put into the picture.

"They're such amazing creatures. ... I wanted to make it look nice."

Painting has advantage over drawing

Painting has an advantage over drawing, Elizabeth notes.

"You are able to get the purest coloring with painting," she explains. "You can manipulate paint.

"With painting, though, it sometimes is harder to get what's in you mind on the page. Drawing is easier to get the image but harder to get the colors to look (right)."

Ultimately, Elizabeth hopes to take her additional interest in creative writing and become a novelist who draws her own illustrations. She's also interested in movie animation, she adds.

Elizabeth already has a little experience writing books and illustrating them. She has written books for her mom to use in the classroom. When she was 9, she wrote and illustrated a "rules" book, titled "Skipper's Book of Preschool Rules." Later, she created "Skipper's ABC's," "Skipper's Numbers" and "Skipper Hatches an Egg." Skipper the dog, an Elizabeth creation, also is on the drives the birthday train.

"Dogs are probably my favorite to draw," she explains. "I'm a dog person, definitely.

"I'm a person for imagining stories and drawing pictures to go with them. I wrote a chapter book in the eighth grade - it was so short and bad. But now, I'm practicing how to do creative writing."

She likes to work in a particular style called "fan fiction," which is taking another author's characters and writing a story around them.

"It's a challenge, tyring to write for someone else's characters," Elizabeth notes. "But it's really interesting and enjoyable."

And amidst the writing and visual art, she plays piano, sings in the youth choir at her church, and occasionally acts at West T. Hill Community Theatre. Her last stint there was 2003's "Fiddler on the Roof."

"I'm waiting for something else to come up," she notes.

But the art and the writing are constants.

"I'll definitely stick with them," Elizabeth says. "This is it forever."

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