Scholastic Kids Press Corps
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artist Alex Pintus and some of her work Young artist Alex Pintus in her home studio with her rough draft (on the wall behind her) and the final oil painting that became the 2009 Hispanic Heritage Month poster for Scholastic Classroom Magazines. (Photo by Suzanne Freeman)

Young Artist

Hispanic Heritage Month poster explores the world

By Brittney Sheena and Michelle Sheena | null null , null
Artist Alexandra Pintus' national Hispanic Heritage Month poster.
Artist Alexandra Pintus' national Hispanic Heritage Month poster.

Imagine entering the annual Scholastic Writing and Art Awards, winning a Gold Key at the national level, and then being asked to illustrate the poster for national Hispanic Heritage Month! It was a dream come true for high school senior Alexandra Pintus—except for the part where she had only two weeks to complete the task before final exams began.

"There was a time crunch, I had finals, I had AP tests, but I really wanted the experience," said Pintus, a senior at Westside High School in Houston, Texas. "I had to make three pieces for my art final. I talked my art teacher into substituting this piece (the poster) for one of them."

Her instructions from Scholastic were to include a book and a young reader with the theme of "Explore Your World."

"The idea is that books can take children to far away places all around the world," Judith Christ-Lafond, Creative Director for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, told Pintus. "We would like the image to be bright and colorful."

With those instructions in mind, Pintus included landmarks, such as a Japanese pagoda, the Great Wall of China, Great Britain's Big Ben and France's Eiffel Tower to represent the world. A high-speed train and the space shuttle symbolize universal exploration. A toucan and waterfall represent the natural world.

The young artist first created a rough draft of the piece in chalk pastels. Then she used oils for the painting. Her final creation became a beautiful glossy poster that will be hung in classrooms around the nation. About 200,000 Hispanic Heritage Month posters were distributed with copies of Scholastic News magazines this month.

"The rough draft was the hardest part," Pintus said as she pointed to the chalk piece hanging on the wall in her home studio. "This is where you do the composition and the colors. This took two days."

Once the draft was approved, the final piece was easier because she just had to make it bigger.

The next challenge came when she took the finished piece to Scholastic headquarters in New York.

"I was worried that it would not fit into the overhead bin on the airplane," she said. At first, the airline was going to charge her an additional $200 to check the painting. Eventually she convinced officials to allow her to carry it on without extra charge.

Pintus said she drew on her own background to inform the Hispanic Heritage connection to her poster. In fact, the girl in the picture is basically a self-portrait, painted to look about nine years old. The artist’s mother is Peruvian and her dad is Italian. She has traveled to Peru and has visited Machu Pichu, a national landmark in Peru.

As an artist in a traditional high school, Pintus says she has faced some challenges. She says she may be the only graduating senior from her school applying to art design colleges. She sometimes feels like a bit of a loner, because she doesn't have time for traditional school activities. She spends a lot of time in her studio working on her different projects, especially now, as she prepares her portfolio for college and scholarship applications.

Taking her own advice for aspiring young artists, Pintus says she does not let herself get discouraged.

"You should acknowledge the fact that you are different, because at school I can definitely tell that I am different," she said. "I think differently and things come to me differently. You should embrace that about yourself."

Scholastic certainly embraced that about the young art winner.

"Alex totally got it," Christ-Lafond told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. "Her painting brought the theme 'Explore Your World/Explora tu Mondo' to life. She understood the assignment like a true professional."

See artist Alexandra Pintus demonstrate three of her favorite painting techniques.

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To read more Hispanic Heritage Month stories, click here.



About the Author

Michelle Sheena is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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