he Scholastic Art Awards competition is a Northern Nevada based art program, scheduled in accordance with the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a national program designed to discover incredible artistic talent in America’s youth. Students ranging from middle school to high school submit their art to be judged by a panel of local artists for consideration. Jordan Hoffman, a senior at Douglas High School in Minden, submitted her graphite pencil illustration “Mornin’ Sunshine” and was awarded a Gold Key recognition for her work.

That piece was exhibited at the University of Nevada, Reno, and another piece, for which Jordan won an American Visions award, was displayed at the Nevada Museum of Art. The Gold Key Award automatically nominated Jordan for the national competition as well.

Can you describe your piece and what it means to you?

My portfolio that I’m doing throughout the whole year this year is based on imagination. So, I’m using this technique called stippling—it’s the dotting technique—to convey elements of my art that are meant to be imaginary. So, in this piece I’ve got a girl; she’s meant to look tired, like maybe she just got up, and I put some birds in her hair, like morning songbirds. And those I use the stippling on. So, I’m trying to convey the kind of mix between dream world and waking up that happens in early morning.

Do you use models for these, or do you just draw them?

I’ve been mostly using family members as models, but this piece was my cousin named Riley. And then I’ve been using family friends mostly.

Do you usually do pencil illustrations, or do you use a lot of other mediums too?

Well, I’ve been exploring other mediums. I think I’m most comfortable in graphite for sure. But I hadn’t really taken a formal art class until last year, and so that class was super beneficial for me in discovering other mediums. I was never into painting at all before. I’m still not great at it, but it’s something that I’m definitely into exploring now.

I thought the title “Mornin’ Sunshine” was a little sarcastic. Do you think it’s representative of how you approach your mornings?

Yeah, I think so. My model in that piece, she kinda looks tired, maybe a little bit annoyed. It’s like the morning “ugh” face. That’s something my dad always says when I get up and I have crazy hair, and I’m just not into this whole doing-the-day thing. He’ll just go, “Morning sunshine” as kind of a sarcastic remark.

Would you say that you’re motivated mostly by class assignments? Or what motivates you to make the art that you make?

I’ve always been into art. I’ve just gone forever. I think that art is really therapeutic. I get stressed out. I don’t know, school is stressful, my life is stressful, and I’m prone to being anxious about those things. And I think focusing on something small and intricate really helps me ground myself. Art is huge for me in that way now. I’m really grateful to have the class to grow me and expand skill and knowledge and just being in the art world more. But I think that just the task of doing art is what motivates me. 

Do you find catharsis in other things like music or anything like that? Or is it all visual mediums? 

I just love spending time with family, but I did TaeKwonDo, so I feel like that in a way kind of has the same draw. And they’re really different activities. Art is quiet and kind of introspective, and TaeKwonDo is loud and exercise, and so they seem really different, but there’s a lot of focus that goes into TaeKwonDo and there’s a lot of precision, and it’s so much of a mind game as well as a physical sport. I think that that kind of has the same sort of therapeutic effect in that way.

How would you say you discovered your style?

Realism has always been a draw to me. I think it’s the detail. I’m very detail oriented, so I think that realism has just always been interesting to me. And also people, I love facial expressions. I love trying to tell a story through art. I think it’s really effective and interesting when people can do that. So, I think that kind of has made up a little bit of my style. And then along with the intricacy bit, stippling is something that’s a link to a lot of my pieces and that’s very detail oriented. Every little dot is what’s making up your shading. It takes forever and weirdly, that is also a draw to me. 

Do you think you gravitate towards more technical stuff like that? 

I guess so. Honestly trying to find a style that isn’t on a photograph is really hard for me. I really admire people that can develop a more whimsical or less realistic style because I can’t envision how you do that, how you create a style that’s very personal to you. I can look at a picture and see exactly what I’m supposed to do, and I really admire people that can just imagine what they’re supposed to do and it comes out looking good.

What were your intentions with the piece besides continuing your portfolio for class?

I guess trying to convey more abstract concepts maybe. Since I hadn’t really taken an art class, well before last year I guess I hadn’t taken an art class, and to me before that art was, “oh, I see a photo and I copied the photo”. I wasn’t really sure how to tell a story with y our art or have a concept behind your art. And so, taking classes and talking to new people and stuff has kind of developed that idea more for me. I guess with my portfolio, it’s my first step of really trying to convey something besides what’s just physically represented in the picture. So yeah, having concepts find my art, I guess.

Images courtesy of Jordan Hoffman and the Nevada Museum of Art

Learn more about the Scholastic Art Awards here.

Posted by Kyle Leutzinger

Reno's Kyle Leutzinger is an eager art enthusiast, fervent and furious scholar of film, local musician and champion of conversation. His methods may be unorthodox, but he'll captivate you with his comely smile and heart of gold.