Among the soft textures of falling snow and the thick warmth of a winter
coat appear piercing eyes, rosy cheeks, and a child’s resolute expression. This is “Brennan,” a pastel on paper created by Patricia Faris and the winner of the 2017 John Tyler Community College Foundation Art Award. Faris, an art student at the college, says she was inspired to paint “Brennan” the moment she saw a photo of the young girl. “The picture was taken by Brennan’s mother during a snow in 2016,” says Faris. “The colors and the expression on Brennan’s face were stunning, and although pastels were new to me, I gave it a try. The pinks on her cheeks were not exaggerated, and the snow in contrast to the dark background helped me frame her face with that determined expression.” This is the third time artwork painted by Faris has won the John Tyler Foundation Art Award, and while she is proud of her work, she is also humble. “There are so many talented artists at John Tyler, and they all deserve recognition for the beautiful work they do.”
Faris’s interest in art began in kindergarten, and throughout the years, with her family’s encouragement, she nurtured her creativity by experimenting with crayons, watercolors, and other art supplies. Although her love for art continued through high school, Faris pursued a career in nursing. Her journey brought her to John Tyler Community College, where she earned her nursing degree in 1983, and then, went to work in neurosurgery. In 2005, Faris returned to Tyler to once again explore her artistic talent. She decided to continue her creative pursuit after retiring from nursing a few years ago. “John Tyler has helped me so much with my artwork,” she says. “I look back at my earlier paintings and can readily see progress. I am so grateful to my professor, Colin Ferguson, for his patience and talent. When I started his pastels class in spring 2016, it was like trying to learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels. I didn’t think I would ever be able to do it. I am so glad I continued, because I now have another medium to work in other than oils. Pastels are faster and create an entirely different effect, which I love.”
The John Tyler Foundation Art Award, which originated in 1995, showcases the artistic abilities of John Tyler’s students. Finalists were chosen by the Foundation Art Award Selection Committee, made up of Foundation Board members and college faculty and staff, including David Ledbetter (chair), Frank Ernesto, Art Hungerford, Chuck Hope, Meredith Carrington, Cris Silvent, and Paula Winn. Members of the entire Foundation Board then select the winning entry from among the finalists. An image of the winning artwork is converted into a poster and cards to be used by the Foundation and the college. The winner receives a cash award, a framed and matted copy of the poster, and additional posters for his or her portfolio.
In addition to Faris (23112), the following students created artwork that were finalists for the 2017 John Tyler Community College Foundation Art Award (zip codes follow each name): Cecile K. Amos (23947); Joshua Cloninger (23139); Jack Goolsby (23114); Kristie S. Holbrook (23235); Nina Robin Morris (23831); April C. Painter (23231); Margaret Robinson (23838); and Robert Wynne (23236).