by Jackson Bicknell, staff writer
Virginia began creating art from a young age. Her endeavors in the arts first began with her grandmother creating watercolors over cups of tea.
Virginia attributes much of her early ambitious artwork ethic to her grandmother. When she passed away five years ago, she left behind a plethora of watercolor paintings for Virginia and her family.
“My grandmother was my first role model,” Virginia said. “She was a closet artist, you could say.”
Virginia grew up surrounded by many farms in the old New England town of Concord, Massachusetts. This is where she realized her fondness for cows.
“I’m a food maniac,” she said. “I love food, cows, drawing them and eating them in interesting ways.”
“Animals with personalities, that’s what I enjoy drawing the most.”
Inspired greatly by the artwork in the Redwall book series, Virginia has created countless pen and ink animal characters imitating human actions.
“When I was younger and reading a lot…I always had these characters in my mind,” Virginia said. She bridges the human world and the animal world through her artwork.
Virginia hopes to someday make a children’s book. Reviewing her work, I cannot help but draw a parallel to the intricate painting style of Jan Brett, the infamous illustrator and writer for such children’s stories as “The Mitten”, “Trouble With Trolls”, and “Goldilocks.” Both Virginia and Brett have a knack for giving identity and emotion to animals through illustration.
Virginia incorporates diverse lines within her work; a combination of fast etchings, intricate detail and minimal marks that imply form. “I go from style to style quite fluidly with pen.”
What is most impressive is that Virginia hardly draws from life.
“I like drawing what I can make up in my brain,” she said.
In high school, Virginia competed in a Scholastic Art contest in Boston. The Scholastic Art Awards is a long running prestigious competition that is known as the largest contributor of scholarships for young artists in the U.S. The contest has awarded many well known artists such as Sylvia Plath and Andy Warhol. Virginia was awarded the Golden Key two years in a row, the highest level of achievement in the regional area.
“I got to go out to eat afterwards,” she said. “So that was really nice.”
“I work well beyond fifteen hours per week,” she said. “I am working all the time.”
Calving season is nearing, which will require Virginia to put in extra time with the cows while they give birth. Virginia is constantly fluctuating between managing animals and working with people at the college. Her artwork reinforces the animal and human connection.
“It’s sorta my thing,” she said.
Virginia’s NSS senior thesis involves researching soil samples for macro and micronutrients that are important to cattle and presenting her findings.
“I want to go home once I graduate and work on a farm somewhere…” she said. “I’m thinking Vermont.” She has ties both in the North and South, but considers herself a New Englander.
A tenacious student, cattle manager, and accomplished artist. She is a renaissance woman.
“Above all, I just like being at home and being an old lady, sitting around decorating.”