Painting a brighter future

Kate Zheng, Feature Editor

Diamond Bar High School junior Christine Zhou has won the annual U.S. Congressional Art Competition for this area. Her first-place painting was also selected as Fan Favorite after garnering the highest number of likes on Facebook.

“I was not expecting to win anything higher than third place, so I was really surprised,” Zhou said.

Zhou found out about this art competition a few years ago when she saw one of her friend’s pieces in the contest on Facebook, but did not think about entering until a week before the submission deadline this year. Zhou decided to enroll after she saw an advertisement for the competition on one of the Walnut Valley Unified School District newsletters.

“The piece I entered, ‘A Portal Into A World of Dreams,’ was originally for my AP Studio Art Portfolio, but I liked it a lot, so I decided to enter it,” she said.

She received her first place award, for Congressman Ed Royce’s 39th California District, during the awards ceremony at Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton.

Zhou said she found her inspiration for this painting while she was volunteering at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She was working in the playroom, helping children recovering from major surgeries participate in fun activities, and a little girl in the room caught her attention.

“One day I saw a girl reading, and she looked completely immersed in her book,” Zhou said. “She wasn’t thinking about the hospital she was in or her health…, and it looked like she was transported into a different world and dimension.”

Zhou said she wanted to bring this memory to life with one of her paintings, so she created the piece in two days. The artwork took her about  10 hours to complete.

Zhou has been passionate about art ever since elementary school, when she was given an artbook. After looking through the pictures, Zhou said she felt inspired to also be able to draw and paint as beautifully as the artists featured in the book.

Throughout her experience with art, she also realized it was more of a stress relieving activity for her, rather than something she felt pressured to do.

Even though none of her family members were interested in art, she stayed dedicated by taking various art classes and joining an online drawing app, where she could share her pieces and view other people’s.

“It was like a little community like Instagram, except it was smaller and everyone there was an artist,” Zhou said.

It was on this app that Zhou made  new friends who gave  her positive feedback on her artwork, and encouraged her to continue her passion.

Since Zhou is planning on pursuing a medical degree, she decided that majoring in art would be too much of a time commitment for her. However, she still wants to incorporate art into her future, even if it means continuing it as a hobby or side job.

“I definitely will continue art in the future since I am very passionate,” Zhou said. “I might paint for fun or sell my paintings and donate the money earned to charity.”