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Berg’s drawings blend Picasso with Prismacolors

Mackenzie Berg’s menageries are peaceable kingdoms where bugs and birds mingle, and a grasshopper’s antenna just might sport a spider’s web.

“I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than an animal,” Berg said. “The flowers and trees are gorgeous, but animals are so pure in what they do that to be able to capture it on paper is incredible.”

The Bainbridge High School junior’s Prismacolor pencil drawings of flora and fauna are on display at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, along with works from about 50 schoolmates, art chosen to represent the high school at the annual spring exhibit.

Berg’s 14-by-18-inch colored pencil piece, “Bug with Fish,” features a giant grasshopper in the foreground, with an antenna turned into a fishing pole and hook, from which a marlin dangles. A flamingo perches on one foot and a tiny bee has alighted on a background comprises patterns from nature.

“I was trying to use as many animal patterns as possible without making it into one big mess,” she said.

For “Broken Mirror,” a drawing featuring a trio of calla lilies, Berg looked to Cubism.

“I would look at a Picasso painting and then back to my drawing to try to figure out where to break things up,” Berg said.

“First I drew what the lilies looked like. From there I took my eraser and erased as many sections as I could. and tried taking the edge line of one (section) and pulling it way over to the side, or sliding it down or bringing it out – doing something to make it look different.”

Berg likes the realistic detail she can build with the Prismacolor pencils’ fine points.

“I like making drawings that are surreal, but each thing in them looks real,” she said. “I could have a frog tap-dancing, but the frog looks like a real frog.”

In all her drawings, Berg leans on her pencils, blurring the strokes to blend the shades.

The pressure wears through the pencils; Berg says her six sets of 120 pencils each have been “totally cannibalized.”

Colorful

The child of a writer with an attraction to visual art, and an architect who “doesn’t understand an idea unless he draws it out in some way,” Berg was deeply interested in making art by the time she was 6.

“Mom bought me a set of ‘how to draw’ books – how to draw horses, how to draw puppies, how to draw cats,” she said. “They showed you how to do it from line drawing to shading. I’d sit in my chair and space out for a couple of hours trying to draw them.”

Her bedroom became a studio stocked with good-quality oil paints, acrylics, colored pens, pencils and “stuff in every niche.”

An only child home-schooled since third grade, Berg savored her “alone time” and privacy to draw.

She drew when her mother read to her from history or English books, and she drew between school projects.

She drew when she wasn’t supposed to draw; during “seat time” – classes at the school district – Berg occasionally hid a drawing pad under a textbook.

Long before middle school, thinking in visual terms was an ingrained habit.

“Whenever I have any spare time, (drawing is) what I want to be doing,” she said. “Sitting in my recliner, a random TV movie on for background noise, sitting there with my little system – all my colored pencils in a row.

“If I could do that all the time, I’d be in pig heaven.”

* * * * *

Media, well done

An exhibition of Bainbridge High School student art is on view through May 30 at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts.

First-place awards went to: Nichole Wohnoutka, Best in Show photography; Phoebe Tyers, sculpture; Erica Hemmen, painting; Melanie Salazar, jewelry; Hazel Scott, mixed media; Kristy Taylor and Emma Mueller, drawing; Alyssa Dyke, color photography; Annie Kent, black and white photography; Nichole Wohnoutka, hand-tinted photography; Nichole Gregory, portrait photography; Matt Peterson, landscape photography.

BAC awards the $1,000 Rosalyn Gale Powell Scholarship to a graduating senior who plans to pursue a career in the visual arts at the High School Scholarship Award Night on June 3.

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