Art teacher Ed Pieske knew Lucy Miller would get an award for being the schools most talented painter at last months celebration of outstanding seniors at Larkin High School in Elgin.
Then he heard Lucys name being called for the photography award. And for the social studies award. And again for the Illinois Science Teachers Association award.
And finally, for the Fermilab science award.
Until then, Pieske had no idea that 18-year-old Lucy was such an exceptional a student in both the arts and academics.
"Thats when I found out really how good she was," he said. "The whole left brain, right brain it really is unusual to be talented in both worlds."
In May, Lucy a straight-A student all through high school was valedictorian at Larkin and also was named the winner of the 14th Congressional District art competition. Every
year, congressional districts across the country hold such competitions. This years winning pieces will hang until next June in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Lucys piece is an oil self-portrait in rich tones of orange and brown in which she pensively stares off into the distance, a game of light and shadows playing on her face.
Steven Lockwood, gallery director at Water Street Studio in Batavia, said the judges felt Lucys piece showed real potential for growth. "We felt that at her age level, the skill in the application and technique was superb," he said.
Lucy said that for self-portraits, she takes up to 30 photographs of herself before finding one with the right evocative expression, color contrast and intensity of light, she said.
"I really like oil," she said, counting impressionists Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec as inspirations. "I really like the dramatic light effect you can achieve with it."
One of Lucys pencil self-portraits still is used by professor Eddwin Meyers in his observational drawing class at the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago.
Lucy took Meyers drawing class at Elgin Community College when she was a sophomore at Larkin.
"I use it as an example of what I expect from students. Its really outstanding," said Meyers, who teaches about 900 students a year. "I thought she was very talented for being such a young person. …