In the earlier part of the year, Jessica H (Year 11) participated in the National Art School Intensive Studio Practice program. Tailored for Year 11 Visual Arts Students, this program is crafted to cater to students aspiring to advance their studies in visual arts for the Higher School Certificate (HSC) and beyond to tertiary education. Under the guidance of prominent artists and lecturers, students enhance their art-making skills and develop portfolios in professional studio settings. SMGS Art Teacher, Miss Alice Ham, recently spoke with Jessica about her experience at NAS this year, and here is a glimpse of what she shared:

Tell me about your experience attending the National Art School HSC Intensive Course.

When I first realised I wanted to be an artist, I planned to further my schooling once I found the National Art Schools booth at Careers Day. The exclusive focus on visual arts at this independent art school appealed to me. I thought it was perfect and took every flyer I could grab. Later, I got Mum to call the school and ask if they have any courses to better my understanding of art and also get a peek at the school. That’s how we found the HSC Intensive Course and fortunately, I secured a spot in the painting course. I was introduced to my Lecturer, Rachel Fairfax, who, in 2009, the Sydney Morning Herald named as one of Australia’s ten leading artists. Rachel also completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at NAS. Under her guidance, I learned techniques for creating large paintings quickly and gained insights into color theory. My two weeks at the National Art School resulted in six accomplished paintings and lasting friendships. I’ll always cherish my time there.

What did you gain from the experience?

I acquired skills beyond my imagination. Typically, as an artist, I tend to focus on less critical aspects of painting once the main composition is complete. However, I learned the significance of paint-blocking—initially blocking in paint and then adding detail at the end. This approach has been instrumental in creating large paintings efficiently. Rachel Fairfax emphasized the importance of considering the bigger picture and encouraged me to periodically step back, realizing that what I may be stressed about is often less significant than initially perceived.

Would you recommend another student from Snowy Mountain Grammar School to apply?

Absolutely, without a doubt. It was an incredible experience. Fortunately, I had family in the area for accommodation, but there’s also a boarding program with nightly activities like art gallery visits and Thursday night shopping. You enjoy the freedom of a university student and have the opportunity to learn from your peers. If you have a deep passion for art, I highly recommend giving it a try. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to reach out to Miss Ham.