Artist Feature: Alice Ren ’19 Draws Inspiration from Everyday Objects

Drawn in graphite by Alice Ren ’19, this observational drawing was based
off a marble bust of Aristotle.

A dirtied gardening glove stands out in stark contrast to the pristine white background. Every crease is drawn in precise strokes, shaded in with dull brown and a hint of purple, creating a sense of depth. This piece, titled “Grandpa’s Work Glove,” is just one of the observational drawings that Alice Ren ’19 specializes in.

“This piece was inspired by my grandfather when he lived in the states. The effort poured into the precision of the glove represents the manual [and] physical work he undertook. This personal piece honors the impact he left on me and my life,” Ren said.

Family is one of Ren’s motivations in her artistic endeavors. Ren’s art career began at a young age when her parents introduced her to an art class in Chinese school. Ever since, Ren has been eager to improve and expand her artistic skills.

“I remember my first cartoon; it was a dragon. That was the first time I got more serious [about] art, because it was like, I’m looking forward to being [at the class]. I’d always doodled or drawn, but having that time in the classroom made it, for me at that age, ‘super serious.’ I began taking [art] more seriously. I peppered my parents, “you have to get me one of those art easels,’” said Ren.

According to Tanvi Kanchinadam ’19, one of Ren’s friends, Ren enjoys drawing for its accessibility and spontaneity, for being able to capture something in the moment; for that reason, Ren always keeps a pen in her pocket.

Kanchinadam said, “[What makes her art special is] her ability to visualize what she’s going to do before she begins… you can’t stop her when she has an idea in her head. Even when we’re in physics class, she’s always doodling something, always compiling ideas. She’s always brainstorming ways to make her art better.”

Ren’s main focus in her artistic work is the detail, especially in object studies. As she continues to explore the realm of art, Ren finds that she has become less of a perfectionist. According to Ren, she has taken all sorts of art electives at Andover, ranging from Architecture to Drawing II, which have challenged her to try out new techniques.

Ren said, “I was first exposed to gestural drawing as a more serious [method of drawing] in [Drawing I]… I’ve become less timid in the way that I approach art, in terms of how I judge my art, and what it can be.”

In her exploration of new styles, Ren also aims to become more comfortable with less control and more fluidity in her pieces. Aside from sketching, Ren also dabbles in painting.

Ren said, “Watercolor especially is very daunting to try, because it’s so easy to go at it on the page, [but so hard] for me to… imagine it to the standard of my sketches… That aspect is daunting in that I don’t have a masterplan. There’s a lot of exploration to be done there.”

Aside from art classes, Ren gets involved with art on campus by volunteering with YDO Art, an on-campus community engagement program. She is also the Co-President of Andover’s Art For Expression Club. Ren sees art as a fixed part of her future, whether it be a career or hobby, and looks forward to continue delving into different modes of art.

“I can’t imagine my life without my art, but I’m not exactly sure on the extent it will play into my future. I feel like there’s so many fields and techniques that I haven’t had the chance to try out yet, so further exploration, I guess, would be the current ‘future’ plan I see for myself,” said Ren

Alice Ren ’19 focuses on detail
when she draws. She hopes to become less of a perfectionist when
it comes to her artwork.