East Grand: State, teachers recognize unique talent of middle school artist
The success of one of Joe Rupp’s newest works has earned him recognition, as well as an opportunity for advanced art studies under art teacher Tina Steinberg. The East Grand Middle School board of directors presented the artist with an award at the end of January.
Under the direction of Steinberg, he worked on the piece as a seventh grader throughout last school year as a side project. The oil painting of a lush landscape, yet to be named, simply started out with what he describes as a Dr. Seuss-like weeping willow, a cliff, and grew from there.
His technique and natural skill, Steinberg said, earned the work a spot in the Colorado School Boards Convention Art Show in Colorado Springs this past December. Steinberg is teaching at the school for her fifth year and said it was exciting to give Rupp the chance to submit his work for the show, especially since this is his final year at the middle school.
Among all five schools in the district, she and the other art teachers are only allowed to recommend three pieces annually. Considered an honor for any young artist, Rupp’s scene was displayed along with 120 other art projects from schools around the state. His mother, Connie, thought Joe “was almost embarrassed” by the attention.
Joe works mostly in pencil and color pencil, “but will work with just about any medium put in front of him,” his mom said. In class, he has been working in pottery. At home, he guessed he has more than a dozen oil paintings, and said he has been working on drawing angles a lot. He hopes to tackle pastels next.
Blessed with art teachers who pushed him out of his comfort zone, his mom explained, he soaked in inspiration all around him. When a local artist told him the hardest thing to draw was hands, he came home and drew pages and pages of them.
He sees three-dimensional things easily in his head, he said, and is able to transfer the images onto paper.
He has been drawing since he can remember, he said.
“At one point,” his mom said, “we thought we were going to have to add a room onto the home just to house his art.”
He doodles on “just about everything,” Connie continued. When she returned to grab a time sheet from her place of work she left on the counter, she discovered the entire cast of SpongeBob on it. Her grocery lists, as well, usually have “some imaginary creature crawling across them,” she said. “Joe’s art is a part of him like his arm or leg. It will always be a part of whatever he decides to do.”
Steinberg said with his passion, patience, skill and openness to critique, there is no question he will go to art school in his future.
“It’s definitely something I want to do,” Rupp said, adding that whatever job he has down the road, “it will include something artistic.”
Rupp has also appeared on the EGSD honor roll since sixth grade, participates in other honor classes like algebra and advanced English, and is a student in the gifted and talented class. His adventurous side is tapped playing hockey defense, running long distance in track and for the cross-country team, and he loves hunting and fly fishing.
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