student story

Elaine Mitchell

Elaine Mitchell loved the freedom of managing her own project for a whole year, in her final year of the Bachelor of Visual Arts at Otago Polytechnic's Dunedin School of Art.

Elaine Mitchell Painting story 1560x900

Although she enjoyed the shorter projects students undertake in the earlier years of the degree, Elaine Mitchell loved the freedom that comes from managing her own project for a whole year in her final year of the Bachelor of Visual Arts at Otago Polytechnic.

“The final year really allowed me to grow and develop as a creator. I’m made life-sized animal paintings out of watercolour and various other mixed media paints. I amassed a collection of stories about how humans have interacted with the natural world throughout history, and each painting was based around one of these stories.”

Elaine chose to study Visual Arts after winning a Celebrate Scholarship. Before winning the scholarship she had planned to complete a Bachelor of Science at university, but the scholarship meant she could consider painting as a serious option.

Elaine recommends anyone else considering the degree base their works on what truly excites them, rather than choose what they think will be ‘good’.

“Experiment and play with different media and subject matter while you can,” she advises, “but if you find something that works for you, like watercolour does for me, then take the time to get really good at your chosen form. I have never regretted any time that I’ve taken to just practise or learn new techniques.

“There is no such thing as talent. A ‘talented’ person is always someone who has invested time and energy into something.”

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Published on 13 Dec 2021