Mackenna Show is a sophomore here at SBHS. She is involved in VADA, VADA Leadership, Cross Country, and Track and Field. Her peers and teachers know her as being dedicated, creative, and outgoing. In VADA Leadership, she works hard helping to organize events and enjoys making VADA feel like a family. She is a self-taught artist whose passion for digital art began last year and recently began selling art at the Mission.
“Recently, I’ve become sort of obsessed with digital art. When I first started last year, I was intimidated to edit my brushes and it was really difficult to figure out coloring, but I learned a lot about digital art through practice and from artists on Instagram.”
Throughout Mackenna’s artistic career, she has been inspired by numerous artists, many of which she discovered on social media. She takes characteristics of art she likes online and incorporates them into her own work, such as from her favorites, @itslopez, @cyarine, or really anyone with a particular style that she likes.
Although inspired by many, Mackenna’s art is very unique to her, especially her coloring style. When she began digital art, she did comic art with heavy line art, but decided against using it as she could not show the true colors of the shadows or skin she was drawing. She is very involved in her coloring process, she says color is always on her mind. When looking at an object, she can’t help but imagine how she would color it,
“That plant over there, for example,” she pointed out during our interview, “looks green, but it’s not actually green. If you look at the bottom of the leaf or the top of the leaf, there’s blue and yellow, it’s all different colors.”
Her drawing process often begins in this manner, she sees something that sparks her interest and immediately notices the colors and tones it’s composed of. Many times stricken by sudden passion, she gets to roughing out a messy sketch on her iPad. Over the span of her art career, she has decided to minimize or altogether forgo lineart and the blending tool. This gives her art a sense of cleanliness and simplicity, with nothing to distract from the beauty of color. After adding basic color, she turns off the sketch layer and finishes the rest of the digital painting, layering colors instead of blending, making sure to not get caught up in tiny details.
Mackenna doesn’t describe herself as a perfectionist, and in fact loathes the idea of obsessing over getting lines perfect. She thinks this comes from her long history of traditional art when she could not zoom in and had to decide what aspects of a drawing were crucial to capturing the emotion of it without trying to fit every detail in.
While she has always been interested in art, Mackenna had never taken an art class before attending Santa Barbara High. In her experience, “there are some things you just can’t learn in a class.” She says techniques that help with proportions and the basics can be taught but you can’t really teach art, it’s something that each individual needs to explore on their own; although she is grateful for the opportunities and mediums VADA has exposed her to.
Mackenna didn’t always have this fearless mindset while creating art. When Mackenna was younger, she mainly used herself as a reference, practicing drawing her hands and face. While it was convenient, she felt that there was so much more she could do if she stepped out of her comfort zone. Just a few years ago, she tried drawing people that didn’t look like her, and was instantly captivated by the endless possibilities of drawing humans.
Looking towards the future, Mackenna has two years left at SBHS, and wants to spend her time in VADA improving her digital art, and exploring animation. She’s thought about commissioning her artwork more and pursuing art after High School, but has somewhat been deterred by people constantly telling her that being an artist is an unstable career. She says an internship with Disney is her main goal right now. Outside of digital art, she is excited to try painting and photography for the first time next year. As a young student, her classmates and teachers are excited to watch her grow as an artist.
“So many times I’ve looked at a drawing and said ‘This is so cool. I could never make anything better. And then it happens, again and again. I’m proud of my art now but I know it doesn’t stop here.”
[Image Credit Kelly Meeder and Mackenna Show]