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Kirsten Pruitt ’19 Expands Her Painting Repertoire in France

Alexandra Galloway, Editor in Chief

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“I wasn’t a natural artist at first,” senior Kristen Pruitt said. “I just really wanted to learn how to draw a picture of myself.”

When she was six years old, Pruitt’s mom took her to first art class, and the rest is history. Ever since that first art class, she has taken hours of painting lessons a week, making it an integral part of her life. Pruitt has honed her art for 12 years at Studio Safka on 7th Street. Even though Pruitt, as president of the National Charity League, a stellar student, secretary of the executive board of Student Council, a dedicated volleyball and tennis player, and a senior working on a mountain of college applications, is always incredibly busy, she always makes time for painting.

“It’s one of those things where people make it an obligation to brush their teeth every day. For me, it’s an obligation to have art because it’s a way to keep myself in check,” Pruitt said.

Her passion for painting gave her an extraordinary opportunity: to paint with a professional artist in France for a summer.

On her way home from school one day, her mom called and told her she had to go to an art show. She said no at first, but, luckily, she changed her mind and decided to go. While she wandered around the art show admiring the abstract French impressionist art covering the walls, a woman she had never met came up to her and gave her a huge hug.

Pruitt thought she was one of her mother’s friends, but she was wrong. The woman was the artist featured at the art show, Jill Stein.

“Your mother showed me some pictures of your paintings. Sit down with me,” Stein said.

So, they sat together and chatted, until Stein offered Pruitt the opportunity of a lifetime: to go with her to the South of France and paint.

“It was so random,” Pruitt said. It was almost like fate.

In France, Pruitt learned how to make her palate herself, plein air paint, and live independently in a foreign country. Every day, Pruitt would make her own breakfast in her apartment, go to a cafe, and at around 8:00 a.m. she would go with Stein and the two other students, one 28 years old and the other 58, to a different city to paint. They would make their palates and paint, staring off into gorgeous fields of lavender or into the rolling waves of the Mediterranean. Often, as she was painting, people would talk with Pruitt, mistaking her as a French person because of her excellent French from her 13 years of French class. Young boys would ask her to take pictures with her, and old people would talk to her about her art and rave about her talent to her teacher.

“I realized that I can actually cross that boundary and speak openly with people in French,” Pruitt said.

The style of painting that Pruitt learned in France is dramatically different than the painting she typically does. In Fort Worth, her photograph-like paintings require the utmost precision, accuracy, and attention to detail, but in France, she had the freedom to play with the piece.

“I had to let go of everything,” Pruitt said, “I see a tree and, instead of painting a tree that’s brown, I paint it with reds and greens. It’s like adding fun to a realistic painting. But it was hard for me to break through.”

She finally made her breakthrough at Casi, sitting on a dock peering out into the Mediterranean. After painting the buildings of the seatown while French men yelled for her to move so that they could clean the boats, she turned her attention to a little boy fishing in the water. When she started painting him, she finally let go. She played with the colors and embraced the new free-style she had been learning, creating the best piece of her trip.

“Now I use more colors that I wouldn’t have used before,” Pruitt said.

Because of her passion for painting, Pruitt is applying to many schools’ architecture programs. Even though as of right now she does not want to major in art or pursue it as a career, she wants to pursue it as her outlet.

Pruitt also explores other mediums of art, taking ceramics in the Upper School.

Pruitt has her own art business and sells her work in various art shows. Follow her on instagram @pruitt.parker.paintings for information about shows and seeing additional pieces. 

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Alexandra Galloway, Editor in Chief

Alexandra Galloway is a junior at Fort Worth Country Day. She is a first-year reporter on the Falcon Quill staff. Outside of Quill, she enjoys participating...

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Kirsten Pruitt ’19 Expands Her Painting Repertoire in France