Cecily Northcut develops passion for sketching, focuses on learning from Studio Art classes
Her sketchbook rests inside the depths of her backpack filled with textbooks and loose notes, but whenever she has an idea for her next piece, sophomore Cicely Northcut finds a place to sit and draw.
Northcut, who primarily focuses on sketching, has participated in art classes since she was in lower school. Now, in upper school, she is enrolled in Studio Art, and she also draws in her free time. She enjoys cartoon-style drawing and works with graphite pencils when sketching.
“When I was really little, I was encouraged to do art because it sparks creativity and I never really stopped,” Northcut said. “I continued to develop my love for art, and it is something I really enjoy doing. My style of drawing is more like a cartoony, not realistic style. While I love graphite sketching, I love to experiment with different art mediums like colored pencils or watercolor.”
Last year, Northcut attended the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in downtown Dallas to focus primarily on her art, but she decided to come back to ESD this year for more structure in school life while still focusing on art.
“Obviously, Booker T. is a very good school for art and going on to do art later in life, and as someone who is interested in continuing to do art past high school, I wanted to try it out,” Northcut said. “I loved the art program so much, and it was really good, but there were other aspects of the school that made me want to come back to ESD.”
When thinking about what to draw, inspiration comes to Northcut through the music she listens to, artists’ artwork she sees through social media and events in the news. Northcut focuses her graphite sketching on people: mainly characters she imagines in her mind but also people in real life.
“Whenever I draw, I pretty much always draw people and character-design related things,” Northcut said. “While I should draw from a reference point, I usually draw people from some idea in my head about some random character quality, and I think ‘Oh! That could make this piece have an edge to it.’ Of course, I have people that always ask me to draw them, and that’s also fun to do, and it makes them happy to see what I come up with.”
Upper school Studio Art teacher Juan Negroni has taught Northcut this year in a class that was Studio Art I first semester and is Studio Art II second semester. This is Negroni’s first year teaching, and he will continue to mentor Northcut for the rest of her time in high school.
“I am lucky enough to say that 100 percent of my students are good in different ways either in discipline, hard work or [they] are very talented,” Negroni said. “Cicely is one of those students that completes the full circle: she works hard, is focused, is interested in the class and is talented.”
After high school, Northcut wants to continue the arts in college and hopes to make a career out of it in the future. While none of her family members are focused in the art field, they continuously support her through her journey.
“My family always encourages me to do something I enjoy, and they are always interested in what I am creating,” Northcut said. “I definitely want to continue some sort of art-related major in college because it’s such an interesting activity, and there is always something more to experience in the field. Other than academics, this is my main hobby, and this is the most viable thing that I’ll continue in some form or another for a career.”
Throughout the coming years, Negroni hopes to help Northcut continue to work hard and have high aspirations in her art work. As it is both their first year in the upper school, Negroni hopes to form a strong teacher-student relationship with Northcut to learn more about her and her style of art.
“My main focus with Cicely has been to give her some agency even though we have some structure in the classroom,” Negroni said. “I try to be flexible with her in class with assigned work because I know she has a different way of seeing what she’s producing in class, and I want her to continue thinking out of the box. I want to pick her brain a little bit more and work together with her future plans, her interests, so I can guide her better and explore the things she likes. That will be super helpful for the both of us, and I can guide her better for her future.”