Blake Russell is an eighteen year old with a huge amount of artistic talent. Like many artists, he began as a young child doodling cartoon characters. Six years ago he began attending the Every Child Counts School where they have a good art programme and the art teacher, Miss Amanda, introduced the idea of painting on furniture.
Blake’s first piece was a mural of sea life he painted on a door. His talents were immediately recognized and he went on to create many more beautiful scenes and motifs on various furniture pieces which were auctioned at various events to raise funds for the school. Blake has also been helped immensely by his new teacher at the school, Miss Nicole.
He sat the BJC Art examination with an excellent B grade pass. Principal of Every Child Counts School, Lynn Major, always told Blake that if he kept working hard there would be a reward. “This gave me motivation and I fed off the thought that I could go somewhere different,” he remembers.
Blake attributes his artistic talents to his family genes since he says that there are many artists and artisans on both his mother’s and father’s sides of his family which include Artist Zyandric Jones and crafts lady Lovely Reckley. While at school working on his art pieces Blake was “discovered” by a volunteer at the school, Rita Heffner.
Ms. Heffner is a very talented Italian professional artist. She worked with Blake at school for the past four years and he remembers well meeting her for the first time. Blake says; “I think she took a special interest in me because I always worked in silence and took art very seriously. She was amazed and worked one on one with me in free time during lunch break.” Ms. Heffner was, in fact, so impressed with Blake’s dedication and the standard of his work that she invited him to Italy to study with her.
Blake’s mother was concerned about her young son travelling so far but he did not want to give up on this excellent opportunity so on July 2, 2012 he headed off on a wonderful adventure to Italy. He remained there for a period of six months, returning on January 6, 2013. “Mrs. Heffner’s home is in Villa St. Giovanni, a small village about one and a half hours from Rome surrounded by farms and beautiful landscapes. I loved everything about the place; I made wonderful friends, the food was great and the environment was peaceful. I dream of returning one day,” declares Blake.
Blake was very impressed with the artwork of Mrs. Heffner, “She does everything and taught me guidelines for measuring, texture and volume and gave me all the tools I need. I worked hard every day except Saturday and Sunday. She made me struggle telling me that being a good artist does not come easy; you have to earn it. We travelled a lot and I painted a lot of landscapes.” In return for Mrs. Heffner’s kindness Blake helped her and her husband renovate their house.
Since his return from Italy Blake has been selling his paintings to pay off the school for his trip and he does commissions for people. He really enjoys painting and humans are his favourite subject, both full figure and portraits. “I have always especially loved eyes” he says. His favourite mediums are oil and acrylic.
Having returned from his international learning experience and graduated from school on June 10 he asks himself, “Now what? I have the tools; what do I do?” Blake would love to obtain a scholarship to study for a degree in art or in graphic or landscape design. “I am trying to get somewhere as an artist. I know it will take a lot to get where I want to be but I will keep on going,” he staunchly declares. He would love one day to have his own studio in which to paint and do commissions whether it be painting portraits, furniture decoration or signs. “Anything to do with fine arts I do with a passion,” says this talented and very personable young man.