Art Champion Is Challenged by Competition

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Teenage artists and writers are on pins and needles these days waiting for word on judging of the big multi-state regional Scholastic contest. One of our metro area's most honored visual arts students is one of those with high expectations.

FOX 4 Young Achiever of the Week Nicole Huber has won regional Scholastic gold in the past -- and hopes to take coveted national awards this year.

"I love the fact that I have been given this talent that I can create beautiful objects for other people to see and let them see the beauty that was already made in these things that you wouldn't normally see," says Huber as she works in the Fort Osage High School art room on a water color painting of red and amber glass vases and multi-colored marbles. As a high school senior, Nicole already has crafted a stunning portfolio of eye-popping artwork, amazing in its variety of media, form, style, theme and scope. Nicole is both astonishingly creative and incredibly meticulous in her research of subjects -- driven to authenticity.

"She uses both sides of her brain," says Johnita Dowhower, Nicole's former art teacher who got her going in higher level art in middle school. "When she wants to do detail, it's as scientifically accurate as possible. She does a lot of research for that. But at the same time, when she's feeling something emotional, it just comes out."

"You can look at her work and tell she works on her realism," says Donna Terrell, Nicole's art teacher now at Fort Osage High School. "She works on her contrast, light and shadow. Her technique is amazing and rivals college level students."

The high quality of Nicole's work has made her a mega award winner in numerous major art contests including regional Gold Keys in Scholastic, the prestigious national competition for high school art students. She's going for national gold this year. Art contests have been powerful motivation for her to keep advancing and trying new things.

"I love a challenge and so to be able to do this many things has really allowed me to grow and develop," says Nicole. Nicole says she enjoys painting and sculpting and drawing all sorts of subjects but she especially gravitates to life -- people, nature, plants and wildlife.

"For me, my favorite part to make anything look lifelike is the eye," says Nicole as she works on a magnificent pencil sketch of the head of a parrot. Doing wildlife art plays right into Nicole's strengths -- her love of pencil sketching and her drive for realism -- immersing herself in research to make her work as true-to-life as possible. And for several years now she's entered the difficult and demanding Junior Duck Stamp art contest sponsored in Missouri by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Nicole was Missouri state champion last year.

"It's a national contest," says Nicole, "so you have to actually put your best forth. You can't just slap something down in a week and say, 'OK, I'm going to turn it in.'"
Nicole's competing in Junior Duck Stamp again this year, with high hopes to to well nationally in that, too. But even if she never won a ribbon or a trophy, Nicole says the beauty she can create makes her efforts all worthwhile, making her happy and giving beauty to others.

"I consider myself really blessed to be able to do it," says Nicole. "And I never take it for granted."

Nicole will hear very soon about the results of the multi-state regional Scholastic art awards. And winning gold there would catapult her to national competition in the spring. The results of her entry in the Missouri Junior Duck Stamp art contest will come in March.

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Monday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m., every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 5 p.m.

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