Published in the October 24 – November 6, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Matt FItch

I am very lucky and excited to have my art displayed at BookSmart. The Morgan Hill store has a new gallery wall space, and I am the first artist that they are featuring.

I sincerely like BookSmart. I love to read and explore the store. I don’t know a life without Mr. Brad, Ms. Cinda and their bookstore. I have had single pieces in art shows and once I had a gallery showing at my church. But this show is special to me because I have actually made art when I was at BookSmart.

When I was younger, I made art with Mrs. Nancy Domnauer, at her BookSmart art workshops. BookSmart is a cool and safe place for me to show my art work. They consistently support our community and me.

My mom once showed me part of a PBS documentary on the American artist Andrew Wyeth. Andrew was always creative and he was raised in a creative family. His father was an illustrator and four of his five siblings went into creative arts as careers. From as early as he could remember, he was encouraged to make art, to make something from nothing. That’s how I have been raised.

Vivid Pony painting by Matt Fitch

My mom gave me free access to art supplies and activities that inspired me and helped me hone my creativity. She tells me that when I was very little, before I had many words, I told her “No!” and used baby sign-language to say “Finished” when she gave me a coloring sheet. If she turned it over so I saw a blank page, I would pick up my crayons and make something. Even now, I don’t like to “color” because I see it as filling in someone else’s work. I like to draw my own lines and fill them with my own creativity.

I consider my mom my first art teacher. Before I started school, I was always given the chance to summarize our adventures by drawing pictures. My mom used to run a mother’s group in Morgan Hill, and she put art on the schedule of events all the time. Some of those art play dates are my best memories.

I loved when she’d have us do something called, “Young Artisans.” On those days we did things such as Bubble Art or marble painting. Even something like Spin Art was fun because all we had to do was create stuff. We got to try painting with acrylics, tempera and watercolors.

I have had two other really great art teachers. I started with Lynda Bassett when I was five years old. Mrs. Bassett’s classes really gave me a good education about the fundamentals of art, such as line, shape, color, value, and texture.

She inspired me to be myself and express myself as an artist. She always encouraged me to push myself to be the best artist that I could be. Mrs. Bassett showed me how to put myself and my own touch on my pieces of art. I loved how she gave me the chance to use many mediums. Later I started taking art classes with Sheri Chakamian.

Panda painting by Matt Fitch

Ms. Sheri’s class showed me that I had to “up my game.” I have learned a lot about form, composition, and value in Ms. Sheri’s classes. I know that part of me making art is taking all that I have learned from my mom, Mrs. Bassett, Ms. Sheri and mixing it into my art skills. I have found a new way to paint since starting with Sheri, I have moved to a bit more of an abstract style.

Being the age I now am, I see things more abstract than I did when I was younger.

When I was younger, an apple needed to look just like an apple. But now, I can paint or draw an apple in a way that is different, new even. I really love animals and enjoy using them as the subjects of my art. People tell me that they like how I do the eyes of the animals I paint.

Eyes can be hard, even in an abstract painting. I like the eyes to be symmetrical.

Occasionally, I get stumped with the eyes, so I just take my time or I work on the eyes when I think the time is right.

Vivid Horse painting by Matt FItch

Often, I do the eyes first, so I can imagine seeing the soul of the piece I am making. I don’t see my art as objects, once I paint them, I feel like they have a life of their own.

Art is important in my life. It gives me an outlet to express all of my feelings. I can show absolute anger or complete elation in my work.

No matter how I feel, I can make a piece of art that I like and it can bring joy to other people. When I make art, I have the ability to look at the world in a way that seems to make it brighter and freer.

The real world can be strange and even frightening, but the worlds that I make in my art are open to everyone. My art is filled with color and life and part of me.

Matt Fitch, age 12, is a seventh-grade student homeschooled through Ocean Grove Charter School. He wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life.

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