GPS student's painting to hang in U.S. Capitol for the next year

'Watercolor Window' by Phoebe Mills will hang in the U.S. Capitol for the next year. Image via GPS

A talented artist who also happens to be a student at Girls Preparatory School (GPS) will have her art displayed at what you could say is a fairly big venue: The U.S. Capitol.

Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. Since the Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have taken part.

This year, GPS senior Phoebe Mills’ painting 'Watercolor Windows' placed first for the local district, and will now hang in the U.S. Capitol.

Mills says she considers her winning piece one of her best and most complex pieces of art. The painting was done in oils and is from a photo she took of a friend riding on a bus with fogged windows.

“I thought it was really beautiful how the traffic lights blurred across the window and made it look surreal and magical,” Mills says of the image. “After I took the picture I thought, Gosh, that looks like an oil painting! At that point, I had never picked up any oil paints but, because of that picture, I decided to try them out and get as good as I could [to] paint that picture that I loved so much.”

GPS says Mills worked over the next two years, honing her oil painting techniques with classes in and outside of school. “I remember when Phoebe brought this picture to me,” says Julie Deavers, GPS art teacher. “She was a sophomore and an enthusiastic Art II student. She told me the story of how she captured this image and that she wanted to paint it—bubbling with excitement. Fast forward two years later to a much more confident and skilled artist, Phoebe decides to tackle this painting. I knew she was ready for it and just encouraged her to try it. Of course she handled it beautifully, and this painting is evidence of how much she has grown as an artist.”

Mills submitted her entry to her representative’s office, and panels of district artists then selected her painting for national consideration. She was also awarded two plane tickets so that she and a guest can attend the opening reception and award ceremony in Washington, D.C., on June 27. Her work will be displayed for one year.

“I brought my art to professionals for criticism, and spent my study halls in the art rooms before I finally thought I might be ready to do that picture justice,” she says. “It’s probably one of my favorite paintings today.” Mills will attend Sewanee: University of the South this fall.

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