CANFIELD Young artist wins top honors for landscape in national contest
This award-winning artist says her high school art teacher helped inspire her to succeed.
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Erika Steiskal stood before the canvas, ready to enter unfamiliar territory.
In the past, she would spend months trying to finalize every detail in one of her works. Now, her art teacher at Canfield High School wanted her to loosen up her style.
"He said, 'I want you to hit the board, be really expressive,'" Steiskal said. She was going to use soft pastels, a medium she had never worked with before. Pastels are like a mix of chalk and crayon.
During her next four days in class, Steiskal created "Autumn Fields," a landscape of the property next to her Chidester Drive home. Her broad strokes of blues, browns and greens depict a deep fall sky hanging over a prairie that's marked by a small gathering of trees.
"Autumn Fields" earned Steiskal first place in the landscape category of The Artist's Magazine's 2002 Student Art Competition. It's her first national award.
Steiskal has received several awards in local art shows in the past.
"I couldn't believe it," she said of receiving the award from The Artist's Magazine. "It was just incredible."
"Autumn Fields" appears in this month's edition of the magazine, which has a national circulation of 175,000.
Credits high school teacher
Steiskal, 18, is now a freshman at the Columbus College of Art and Design. She credited her high school art teacher, Mark Shohayda, with helping to motivate her toward success.
"He was such a big inspiration to me," Steiskal said. "He always pushed me to do better, go farther.
"He really has a gift for teaching."
Shohayda described Steiskal as "way ahead of her time."
"She is like an 18-year-old that has the mind and eye of a 50-year-old when it comes to art," he said. "A lot of people work a lifetime to get as good as she is."
Steiskal said she has enjoyed drawing since she was a young child. She said she tries to tell stories through some of her work.
"I love creating things and telling a story through pictures," she said. "I love to read, and when I read something I usually sketch things out."
Steiskal said she wasn't serious about pursuing art as a career until her freshman year of high school, when she began taking Shohayda's class. Shohayda said that even when she was a freshman, Steiskal seemed determined to succeed in the art world.
"She really has a vision. Since she was a freshman, she knew what she wanted to do," he said.
Steiskal said she plans on majoring in illustration and hopes to illustrate children's books in the future. Students at the Columbus College of Art and Design do not choose their majors until after their freshman year.