This month’s Extraordinary You segment features high school junior, India Ruckle. India is a gifted honors student and budding artist with talent you’ll have to see to believe. Read her honest and inspiring story!
Tell us about how you became interested in art and drawing.
Well, in elementary school I began to draw things in fairytales like dragons and things from the books I was reading, and I realized that I could create anything I could think of. My friends and I would make little origami frogs and hearts. It was pretty nerdy but also really fun. Throughout middle school, I would paint and draw in my free-time but when high school came around, maintaining my school work and a social life kind of caught me up in a whirl. Thankfully at my new school this year, I have had the wonderful opportunity to take another art class and I start drawing and painting again.
Can you talk about any training you’ve had?
When it comes to art, it really is practice-makes-perfect but I have been to a few classes. In third grade I went to an official art class at a studio called “Little Artists.” There we practiced many mediums like pencil drawing, marker, charcoal, colored pencils – you know, the usual. It was fun but short lived. I don’t really know why I stopped going, but I did. Then in seventh grade, I began art classes at my middle school and I loved it. It was probably the best experience I’ve had with art. I had the best teacher who was fun but helpful in furthering my art knowledge. We made animal masks, recycling projects, and others I can’t quite remember… But what I do remember from that class was the love I had for art. After middle school I couldn’t take art freshman year because I had to take Spanish but this year, my sophomore year, I entered into Art 1. There have been a few obstacles like being in a class full of freshman girls you don’t know… But you learn to overcome and use headphones to listen to music on your phone. This year I’ve probably made some of my favorite pieces and I’ve learned to work with charcoal, which makes everything look better.
What are your favorite subjects to draw? What inspires you?
My favorite things to draw would have to be portraits (though I don’t have much practice) and flowers. Both are just so beautiful. Lately, my inspiration has come from my art class deadlines, but this summer I hope to get outside and paint and draw some more. Beauty is everywhere and I’ve noticed on walks that my neighbors’ flowers are always beautiful and are quite fragrant in the spring. (Always stop to smell the roses). This spring break I went to France. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and it’s like being in a whole new world. The south of France is especially wonderful. So many plants and mountains, but the architecture and cobble stone buildings are gorgeous. I would say that traveling inspires me. It opens my eyes to new places and new things to take in.
What’s one challenge you’ve had to overcome in being an artist? Is there anything you’re still working through?
The hardest thing for me with art would have to be my own perfectionist view. I’m my hardest critic. Something may be perfectly fine but I don’t see it that way and I change it, ultimately making it look worse in my eyes when I shouldn’t have changed it in the first place. It’s hard to let things be and not have control over everything in my life but I’m slowly learning to let things go.
What role does artwork play in your future?
In middle school and up until last year, I wanted to go to college to major in graphic design. I recently decided that was not what I wanted to do with my life. Art will not be the main focus of my life, but it will play a role. I see myself somewhere in the future sitting along a riverside painting some beautiful landscape. I would love to paint someone I know or be painted myself like they did before they had photographs. I would still love to study art in some form. I’m just not quite sure yet.
If someone feels inspired to pursue art and drawing, what advice would you give him/her?
Never compare yourself to other artists. Especially when you’re a teenager – it’s really difficult to avoid the comparison game. I’ve seen all year, time and time again, these freshman girls flock to the “more experienced” artist in the class and complain about how their work “isn’t as good”. The thing about art: practice makes perfect. The Mona Lisa wasn’t just made before years of art skills were developed. Neither was the Creation of Adam by Michelangelo or Starry Night by Van Gogh. They all spent years experimenting and developing their style. Likewise, if you’re willing to take the time you need, you too can be a great artist.
Another piece of advice I have is to never try to copy someone else’s art style. You can never be another artist, and you can only create your own masterpieces. I hear girls say all the time to each other, “OMG can I be you?” or “so perfect” and it’s honestly ridiculous. The only person you will ever be is yourself. Art is an expression of the inner you and it is beautiful no matter if it’s “perfect” or not.
The only person you will ever be is yourself.
Thank you, India. You’re so right! Thank you, also, for not only sharing your story and beautiful artwork with us, but for your wisdom. We wish you much success in whatever your future holds.