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Charcoal drawing by Connor ReillyAt the annual Fluvanna County High School art show (May 6), a variety of art students emerged in different categories featuring some traditional mediums and more contemporary art forms. In past shows, judges from the Fluvanna Art Association saw more paintings, often picking a painting as Best in Show; but in the last few years, pencil and charcoal have been the winning mediums, showing the students’ solid grasp of anatomy and understanding of the medium itself.

Out of the over 100 students that participated this year, Reanna DeVarennes won for her pencil drawing of a child hugging an elderly veteran with the American flag as a backdrop. Not yet a senior, DeVarennes has been a rising star. She is not timid in her pencil work as some are, with washed out tones, but her use of strong contrast and flawless execution of detail is what made her piece stand out from the rest. She also won first in her category of pencil drawing.

It was a tough choice for the judges who also praised Connor Reilly’s charcoal/Conte crayon work which was striking in its sharp contrasts and dramatic appeal. Both captured their subjects’ emotions, highlighting their awareness and feeling.

Among other traditional mediums, watercolor showed some strong artists. Ciera England won first for her broadly majestic and strong elephant done in variations of gray with a wall of streaming colors behind him. Mia Gonzalez’s blue and orange trees showed not only a mastery of watercolor, but also a solid sense of color. The two honorable mentions, Elizabeth Roberts and Jason Peters, also had outstanding pieces.

Drawing skills were obviously sharp among this crop of students. Amir Reid’s understanding of perspective was evident as was the patience of the students who created large scale zentangles featuring diverse patterns.

The eighth grade collage category showed some unique ideas. Students showed hard-hitting pieces in the commercial art category. The students in this category demonstrated skill in manipulating images with computer-aided methods, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Unlike the students who were praised for their hands-on methods and execution in sculpture, drawing and painting, these students were able to translate their ideas and imagination into slick contemporary art.

Photography, which often shows contrived scenes, featured works that were more genuine. Alec Stover’s still life of a violin left on a porch would have been considered contrived in his approach had not his use of lighting given it a voice and told a story. In photography the use of light is key, and students in this medium showed signs of grasping the concept.

Photographing people is always difficult, trying to capture the inner emotion and feeling of the moment when the photo is taken without the subject posing for the shot. Natalie Hughes did exactly that in a dramatic black and white of the late Bill Hughes, her grandfather. The love she had for him is obvious in her portrait and it garnered her first place in the photographing people category.

This show marks the last one for art teacher Diane Greenwood, who is retiring this year. The judges from the Fluvanna Art Association wished her well and look forward to working with Michelle Coleman in the future and keeping an eye on students like Reanna DeVarennes.