Working in a small bedroom, Avery Kroll felt a bit nervous as she began painting a portrait of her grandparents, Gordon and Cynthia Bietz.
As the artist commissioned to create the artwork that would eventually hang at the new Bietz Center for Student Life, Kroll had been asked to paint a picture to honor the former president and his wife for their contributions to Southern Adventist University. But the process was nerve-racking.
“I wanted the eyes to look alive in the painting, to capture a soul, a human being, an astounding individual,” said Kroll, referring specifically to the image of her grandfather. “In discussion with the head designer of the Bietz Center, my goal was to capture the essence of who my grandfather is and recognize that he had an astounding impact.”
Last month, Kroll unveiled the portrait at the grand opening for the center. Later, in an interview with the Accent, she described the creative process.
Kroll, a Southern senior animation major, said she worked on the painting all summer, and it took about 70 hours to complete. The project presented many challenges, one being that her grandparents lived close to her and were extremely curious about the work she was doing. They wanted to see her progress, Kroll said, but she was instructed not to show them the painting until it was unveiled. She said her grandmother was especially curious.
Kroll said the art project was the biggest she has ever completed, and she struggled with perfectionism and accuracy.
“Art is not like a nine to five job,” she said. “It is hard to find the drive to create, and there were times when I felt uninspired. The creative spark does not come when you want it to.”
Podcasts helped keep her mind engaged and open to ideas, she said. For inspiration, she looked at old photos of her grandparents, which kept her excited.
“I see kind eyes, enthusiasm, humour, outdoorsy, caring and kind [people],” said Kroll when asked to describe the painting in her own words.
Once the painting was completed, Kroll said she felt relieved because she had put so much time and energy into the project. At the unveiling, she felt nervous but was thankful that her brother, Aiden Kroll, was there to support her, she said.
Kroll said her grandparents were excited and proud when they saw the painting. She recalled her grandmother being “full of tears and very emotional.”
“I was very excited to see my grandparents’ reaction,” she said, reflecting on the experience.