Claire Picard wasn’t allowed to watch television or use electronics as a kid, so she had to find other ways to entertain herself. She got her first paint set at age four.
During high school in her hometown of New Canaan, Conn., she took painting classes at Silvermine Art Center as a hobby and said she soon fell in love with creating art. Her aunt and grandmother were also artists, and they fueled Picard’s creative side when they handed down art supplies for her to use.
“With those [materials] I was able to become more interested in it,” she said.
Picard decided to go to University of Miami to major in education, but after taking art general education classes her freshman year, Picard thought it made more sense to major in something she actually enjoyed – like art.
“I realized that that’s what I wanted to spend my time doing,” said Picard.
Now Picard, 21, is a senior at Penn State University double majoring in Art Education and Painting and Drawing.
She said she transferred to Penn State University because it has the art education major and it was closer to home. She then decided to double major in painting and drawing because she wanted to take more classes wherein she could create art.
Picard says that she has improved her art skills since she began studying art for her majors, rather than taking classes during her free time in high school.
“I’ve gotten better in the sense that I don’t need source material anymore. I can paint things without having to plan it out,” Picard said. “Occasionally I will look up random source images if I want something specific, but I don’t need to look at anything to paint or draw realistically.”
Picard has gotten involved in other ways in college as well, balancing her time between work and extracurricular activities.
She is a member of Delta Gamma Sorority, a Dancer Relations Captain for IFC/Panhellenic Dance MaraTHON, a member of Pennsylvania Art Educator’s Association, and a member of the meditation club Dharma Lions.
Picard is also working on a senior thesis on Art Education for Schreyer Honors College focusing on integrating art into classroom lessons and how that affects divergent thinking and creativity in kids.
After graduation in the spring, Picard must spend one semester in Pittsburgh as a student teacher in both an elementary and high school to officially finish her degree.
Then she plans to attend grad school in Philadelphia but has yet to decide if she will pursue a master’s degree in art education or fine arts.
“After grad school I want to be working ideally in a college teaching art, so I just need to figure out which path is better for that,” she said.
Video Sidebar: Behind the Scenes
There is a rhythm to working with acrylic paint.
Claire Picard must prime her canvases before she starts creating the art.
“It makes the canvas more even and the paint sits better on it,” Picard said.
Priming takes place before any other paint goes on the canvas, and the primer has to be completely dry before the art begins.
After finishing each work session in the studio, the art students have to clean their stations.
Picard washes her brushes in the giant sink, using dish soap to get every bit of acrylic paint off the brushes.
She lets them dry overnight until her next studio class.