BROOKSVILLE — Hernando High School junior Alaina Avirett, 17, made a paint using coffee and sugar and created a 16- by 20-inch piece of art that won her Best in Show at the recent Spring Hill Art League show at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
Senior Sheena Mattern, 17, earned second place overall for her 24-by-24 eye close-up with a waterfall and rain forest in the pupil at the same show.
Both students are in Michael Nicholson's Advanced Placement studio art class.
The students, in their second year of art classes, explained that they are required to create 12 still lifes and 12 works focusing on something in particular. Alaina's focus, or concentration, is people. Sheena's is self-portraits.
For the art show, Sheena chose two. In addition to the eye, she chose a self-portrait with the addition of some leopard spots on her face. (Hernando High's mascot is the leopard.)
Alaina entered one item, a painting of three stacked coffee mugs. She used some white acrylic paint in the background, but did the cups and shadows with the paints she made from sugar and coffee.
The students' works were selected from about 70 pieces from four local high schools. First, the works by Alaina and Sheena had to be selected at the school level. Each art class submitted paintings or drawings, and the final 25, selected by art students, went to the show.
Besides the selections for the show, works were also chosen by Advanced Placement and portfolio art students for printing, compliments of their teacher.
"Mr. Nicholson thought, because this year our work was so much better, as a nice gesture he would make prints for us," Sheena said.
Ten selected students received 10 prints for each art piece. The limit was two paintings, or 20 prints. The prints are available for sale for up to $20 each. Sheena has already sold five of hers.
Artists often create prints to jumpstart their careers, Nicholson explained.
"So it's a real-life experience, and art supplies are expensive, and it teaches them how to reinvest," he said.
The students selected to receive prints were: Elisha Pager, Jessi Poole, Melissa Davis, Danielle Herbert, Cierra Adkinson and Sheena. The prints are posted outside the art classroom at Hernando High.
Alaina and Sheena are looking forward to using art in their careers.
"I would like to build up a portfolio and work on movie sets and make up props," said Alaina, the daughter of Celeste and Richard Avirett.
"My plan is to go to Pasco-Hernando Community College and probably transfer to a special effects/makeup school in California or New York," said Sheena, the daughter of Jorg Mattern.