St. Michael sophomore Anh-Tu Nguyen first remembers drawing as a young kid in PreK at St. Alphonsus. Little did he know this was the beginning of an exceptional skill that he would come to hone as he grew older.
Anh-Tu says that he knew his skills were becoming impressive when he won a bookmark contest in middle school. “There was this bookmark competition in either 6th or 7th grade that I wanted to enter, and I won first place. After this I had the realization that maybe I should keep going and building my talents in drawing,” he explains. So, he continued to apply himself throughout his art classes and received the St. Alphonsus Artist of the Year title as an eighth grader.
Inspiration for his drawings are not necessarily a lavish ordeal; it simply comes from pictures that piques his curiosity. For example, his parrot drawing, titled “Parrotdise,” came from a picture that he noticed in the home of his piano teacher. “My piano teacher has a picture of a parrot licking a lollipop and I just thought it would be fun and interesting to draw,” he shares about the piece. As for the portrait of SZA, Anh-Tu says it caught his attention and immediately knew he wanted to capture the popular singer. “I came across this picture of her on the internet and found it striking. From the color scheme to everything about it I just knew I wanted to draw it myself,” he explains.
Completing a piece, however, does involve more strategic steps. From picking the dimensions of paper, to sketching and layering color, a finalized piece might take anywhere from one week to one month, depending on size. “To start, I sketch as accurately as possible from simply looking at the photograph I have chosen,” explains Anh-Tu. “This part is the hardest for me because it is difficult to be precise. But after that is complete all I must do is match the colors with the ones in the picture. From there I do layer after layer with colored pencils.” As the process comes to a close, Anh-Tu says the best part is knowing the final product was a labor of love. “My favorite part is seeing the final piece and knowing how much work I put into it,” he says.
Drawing is not the only skill that Anh-Tu has come to master. He is also quite the pianist, showcasing his musical talents at most St. Michael liturgies on campus. He is also a member of the creative writing club, the reading Warriors club, the BETA club, as well as student council, where he served as homeroom representative this school year. As only a sophomore, he has already enrolled in eight honors classes and boasts over a 4.5 GPA.
As an underclassman, Anh-Tu wants to keep his options open for the future, but he does admit that he will continue to refine his art skills and create master pieces. “It will always be a hobby. Maybe in the future I will sell prints and do commissions on the side,” he says in closing. “And I am not that good at detail painting yet, but I am currently practicing to become better at that, too.”
You can see more of Anh-Tu’s artwork on his Instagram page, @anh2.art, and be sure to look for his pieces in next year’s St. Michael art show.