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This work by Vanessa D., 17, a junior at Hancock College Prep High School on the Southwest Side was one of the winners of the Sun-Times snowman art contest.
This work by Vanessa D., 17, a junior at Hancock College Prep High School on the Southwest Side, was one of the winners of the Sun-Times snowman art contest.
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Sun-Times snowman student art contest’s middle school, high school winners

We asked students to make a real snowman or a work of art for the latest phase of The Imagination Project — and had artists Jessica Olinger and ‘Sick’ Fisher review their work.

Last weekend, we spotlighted the elementary-age winners of the latest Chicago Sun-Times art contest, part of what we call The Imagination Project, featuring real snowmen or works of snowman art. Today: the high school and middle school winners.

Here are the winning images and runners-up, with encouraging critiques from two professional artists: Jessica Olinger and “Sick” Fisher.

HIGH SCHOOL WINNERS

Vanessa D., 17 (art at top)

Junior, Hancock College Prep High School, Southwest Side

Sick Fisher: “High concept and sharp execution make this piece stand out. The split-screen motif really has you wonder if a melting snowman in a red-sky apocalypse is any better than a clean, blue winter wonderland.”

Jessica Olinger: “Big fan of the different season perspectives and contrasting color palettes on both sides, it’s such a cool effect. The snow detail on the cabin is so cute, and I love the mountains — they’re so grand!”

Julia P., 17

Junior, Curie Metro High School, Southwest Side
A snow globe snowman against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline by Julia P., 17, a junior at Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side.
A snow globe snowman against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline by Julia P., 17, a junior at Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side.
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Fisher: “If this hasn’t been made into an actual snow globe already, it needs to be! Though this watercolor is technically sound in composition and character, I feel the most effective element is the copper base of the snow globe. It successfully completes the illusion and makes me want to shake it.”

Olinger: “Watercolor is such a beautiful medium, I think it works so well for this piece. The matching hat, scarf and gloves is such a cute detail! Also, the lettering work is very clean and crisp.”

Osvaldo S., 17

Junior, Whitney Young Magnet High School, Near West Side
A snowman a little close to the fire by Osvaldo S., 17, a junior at Whitney Young Magnet High School on the Near West Side.
A snowman a little close to the fire by Osvaldo S., 17, a junior at Whitney Young Magnet High School on the Near West Side.
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Fisher: “With its intense use of color, text and narrative, this piece has left me thinking: Does warmth apply only to the temperature? Wordplay and heavy lines make this a bold and thought-provoking work.”

Olinger: “It’s like a beautiful color explosion. Great job capturing a feeling and putting it into a scene. I feel like I can really tell how that snowman is feeling. Colored pencil is such a wonderful medium, full of texture.”

Caeley D., 16

Sophomore, Lincoln-Way West High School, New Lenox
A snow chef by Caeley D., 16, a sophomore at Lincoln-Way West High School in New Lenox.
A snow chef by Caeley D., 16, a sophomore at Lincoln-Way West High School in New Lenox.
Provided

Fisher: “LOL, humor in art is so important. Though a snow-peddling snowman is what I will remember most of this piece, it would not work as well without the skillful execution of the pencil. Excellent shading and composition let the joke land.”

Olinger: “Very nice pencil work! Love all the shadows and textures. The trees are my absolute favorite but also the pattern on the apron — it is extremely well done as is the quilting on the oven mitt. And, wow, even the shading on the snowballs he is holding is perfect!”

Amelia M., 18

Senior, Lake Park High School, Roselle
A fresh take on a snow creature by Amelia M., 18, a senior at Lake Park High School in Roselle.
A fresh take on a snow creature by Amelia M., 18, a senior at Lake Park High School in Roselle.
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Fisher: “Totoro! If you know, you know.”

Olinger: “This is the first time I’ve seen a snow creature like this. I absolutely love it! Really brave of you to step away from the traditional sculpture of a snowman and make something completely of your own. That’s what the best artists do.”

Carlos T., 17

Junior, Hancock College Prep High School, Southwest Side
An umbrella-toting snowman by Carlos T., 17, a junior at Hancock College Prep High School on the Southwest Side.
An umbrella-toting snowman by Carlos T., 17, a junior at Hancock College Prep High School on the Southwest Side.
Provided

Fisher: “This piece wins the literary award for excellence in storytelling. With the thoughtfully selected props in foreground and an ambiguously twisted scene between a frozen child and an escaping snowman, the viewer is asked to consider whether or not to intervene. Cold and provoking. True art.”

Olinger: “You really have to catch all the details to be able to understand all that’s going on. It seems like you really put a lot of intention behind this piece. I love the things sticking out of the snow in the front and how they are partially covered or barely sticking out. My absolute favorite detail, though, is the little plastic bag barely hanging on in the top right tree branch.”

Ingrid C., 16

Junior, Curie Metro High School, Southwest Side
A classic snowman by Ingrid C., 16, a junior at Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side.
A classic snowman by Ingrid C., 16, a junior at Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side.
Provided

Fisher: “Soft and Idyllic, this piece’s use of symmetry makes for a most pleasing scene. The use of paint on canvas (as opposed to markers or pens) also solidifies this piece’s timelessness.”

Olinger: “Green and pink always go so well together. I love, love, love the shadowing and shading, especially around the body of the snowman. I love the twigs that are his arms, I love how crooked and funky the one on the right is.”

Solmaris S., 17

Junior, North-Grand High School, Humboldt Park
A schussing snowman by Solmaris S., 17, a junior at North-Grand High School in Humboldt Park.
A schussing snowman by Solmaris S., 17, a junior at North-Grand High School in Humboldt Park.
Provided

Fisher: “It may not be immediately apparent, but this illustration shows the snowman from an unusual angle, one that is difficult to recreate without actually seeing it. So, unless she watched this snowman downhill skiing, this drawing is a technical achievement. It’s also the most active of all the snowmen, which is an important element in surviving the winter blues.”

Olinger: “I love the movement you’ve created. I feel like this snowman is going 100 miles an hour down a hill. It’s really difficult to create a sense of motion in a drawing. You’ve done a great job tackling it!”

Ange-Marie N., 15

Freshman, Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, North Side
Pooh Bear and friends as snow creatures by Ange-Marie N., 15, a freshman at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center on the North Side.
Pooh Bear and friends as snow creatures by Ange-Marie N., 15, a freshman at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center on the North Side.
Provided

Fisher: “Another awesome squad! I’d love to see the Pooh crew having s’mores with the Snowvengers. The deep shade of blue works so well with the starkly contrasted white snow.”

Olinger: “I love that we can instantly recognize who these characters are. Really great job capturing the likeness of all of them. The line work in the text is super crispy. Love the snowflakes coming down.”

Zoë G., 17

Senior, Lane Tech College Prep High School, North Side
Artwork by Zoë G., 17, a senior at Lane Tech College Prep High School on the North Side.
Artwork by Zoë G., 17, a senior at Lane Tech College Prep High School on the North Side.
Provided

Fisher: “This piece has such presence. It feels as if the artist is drawing upon years of studying the masters. There is great strength in the jawline of this figure, which also registers as neither male nor female — as if it’s a unisex deity of the winter months. This piece is just the beginning for Zoë. Everyone should keep an eye out for this potential master.”

Olinger: “Huge fan of the blue tones here. Such a cool piece, no pun intended! It’s an intriguing character, and I pick up on something new when I look at it again. I also love that you chose to whiten out the eyes. And the frozen bits all around the head are such a nice touch to push the feeling of this piece.”

MIDDLE SCHOOL WINNERS

Gloria B., 12

Sixth grade, Coonley Elementary School, North Side
A snowman with quite a view by Gloria B., 12, a sixth-grader at Coonley Elementary School on the North Side.
A snowman with quite a view by Gloria B., 12, a sixth-grader at Coonley Elementary School on the North Side.
Provided

Fisher: “Though only a small part of the work, the snowman’s hat and nose really shine in this. The warm colors let you focus on the subject in foreground while enjoying the colder colors of the background.”

Olinger: “I love the scene behind him. The trees in the distance really help to give some depth and perspective to the piece.”

Lara A., 12

Seventh grade, Century Junior High School, Orland Park
A snowman set against a backdrop of deep colors by Lara A., 12, a seventh-grader at Century Junior High School in Orland Park.
A snowman set against a backdrop of deep colors by Lara A., 12, a seventh-grader at Century Junior High School in Orland Park.
Provided

Fisher: “The Northern lights-inspired sky is the real star in this one. The viewer quickly registers the snowman and house as the subject, allowing the wonderful gradient in the sky to compliment and complete this scene.”

Olinger: “The gradient background really makes the scene pop behind the white snowman. Also, the shadows in the snowman are really well done and create a nice 3D effect.”

Slater W., 12

Seventh grade, Palos South Middle School, Palos Park
A skinny snowman by Slater W., 12, a seventh-grader at Palos South Middle School in Palos Park.
A skinny snowman by Slater W., 12, a seventh-grader at Palos South Middle School in Palos Park.
Provided

Fisher: “The winter centipede! I love how this breaks from the standard three-piece snowman and takes a new, almost Super Mario-villain approach. Jingle bell eyes also give an alien quality to this snow bug.”

Olinger: “Whoaaaa! Very creative. I love an untraditional snowman. I really enjoyed how you used shiny, round objects for the eyeballs, it imitates an eye quite well, especially since you can see your reflection in it. So cool!”

Meghan R., 12

Sixth grade, Dore Elementary School, Southwest Side
A fluffy snowman by Meghan R., 12, a sixth-grader at Dore Elementary School on the Southwest Side.
A fluffy snowman by Meghan R., 12, a sixth-grader at Dore Elementary School on the Southwest Side.
Provided

Fisher: “There’s no better medium for snowman art than cotton balls? No. No, there is not. The fluffiness of the medium reminds me of the first snow, when things are soft, quiet and bearable.”

Olinger: “The texture here is amazing. I want to reach out and touch it. That blue is one of my favorite shades of blue. It’s so deep and rich. I like how contrasting it is to the rest of the piece.”

Maya H., 12

Seventh grade, Grace Lutheran School, River Forest
Hero snowmen by Maya H., 12, a seventh-grader at Grace Lutheran School in River Forest.
Hero snowmen by Maya H., 12, a seventh-grader at Grace Lutheran School in River Forest.
Provided

Fisher: “This is not your typical one-snowman yard. I wouldn’t want to be Snow Thanos in this neighborhood.”

Olinger: “The theme here is so fun! I love that it plays off something from pop culture that is easy to recognize but pushes the imagination to think of what a world full of Snowvengers would be like.”

Alessio C., 11, & Zoe C., 8

Sixth grade & third grade, South Loop Elementary School, Chicago
A snowman by Alessio C., 11, and Zoe C., 8, siblings in sixth and third grades at South Loop Elementary School in Chicago.
A snowman by Alessio C., 11, and Zoe C., 8, siblings in sixth and third grades at South Loop Elementary School in Chicago.
Provided

Fisher: “Wow, perfect snowman much? This is what a snowman looks like in the dictionary. Solid!”

Olinger: “So impressive! The proportions here are perfect, and each snow ball is so neatly and smoothly packed. I think my favorite part is the little smoke pipe, which I think really gives Mr. Snowpocalypse his personality. He is very dapper.”

Elizabeth F., 13

Seventh grade, Kimball Middle School, Elgin
A snowman sketch by Elizabeth F., 13, a seventh-grader at Kimball Middle School in Elgin.
A snowman sketch by Elizabeth F., 13, a seventh-grader at Kimball Middle School in Elgin.
Provided

Fisher: “The high contrast lighting and shading really make this guy pop off the page. The strong lighting suggests the coming of warmer weather, as the snowman appears to be slowly, but happily, melting.”

Olinger: “The first thing I notice is the use of shadows to accentuate the figure, which is done very well and instantly creates a lot of dimension. A couple of little details I really love about the face are the carrot nose — I love the little dip at the end — as well as the highlight on the eyeballs.”

Emilia G., 12

Sixth grade, Jerling Junior High School, Orland Park
Artwork by Emilia G., 12, a sixth-grader at Jerling Junior High School in Orland Park.
Artwork by Emilia G., 12, a sixth-grader at Jerling Junior High School in Orland Park.
Provided

Fisher: “On top of a flawless composition, the winter-blue aura behind the snowman brings an element of magic into this piece. Also a big fan of the scarf’s blue-green pattern. Something tells me that this scarf actually exists.”

Olinger: “I absolutely love the blue glow around the snowman. He seems magical! I also really appreciate the texture created by the slight shading in each snow ball, it looks very much like the exact texture of tightly packed snow. I was also so happy to see that the snowflakes in the background had a silver sheen to them.”

Adrian L., 13

Seventh grade, Wadsworth Stem Elementary School, South Side
A snowman with a message by Adrian L., 13, a seventh-grader at Wadsworth Stem Elementary School on the South Side.
A snowman with a message by Adrian L., 13, a seventh-grader at Wadsworth Stem Elementary School on the South Side.
Provided

Fisher: “Good vibes only! This lil guy could easily be on a hat or shirt. The positive message and posture of the snowman make winter just the right amount of warmer.”

Olinger: “I love the positive message. It’s warm and welcoming. The broom is perfect. And love the lines you created for the ground. He looks like he is having a jolly good time. It’s great.”

Tyler D., 13

Seventh grade, Liberty Junior High School, New Lenox
A chill snowman by Tyler D., 13, a seventh-grader at Liberty Junior High School in New Lenox.
A chill snowman by Tyler D., 13, a seventh-grader at Liberty Junior High School in New Lenox.
Provider

Fisher: “If this snowman was a real person, I wouldn’t mess with it. It’s like a scarecrow for other snowmen. Strength and scale make this guy captain of the block.”

Olinger: “Very well proportioned. And I love that he is wearing clothing from real life, which makes him seem like a real person almost. Cool effect!”

RUNNERS-UP

Natalia C., 15

Sophomore, Curie Metro High School, Southwest Side
A snowman that took a fall by Natalia C., 15, a sophomore at Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side.
A snowman that took a fall by Natalia C., 15, a sophomore at Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side.
Provided

Jonathan B., 16

Sophomore, Curie Metro High School, Southwest Side
One very round snowman by Jonathan B., 16, a sophomore at Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side.
One very round snowman by Jonathan B., 16, a sophomore at Curie Metro High School on the Southwest Side.
Provided

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Lewhat W., 11

Fifth grade, Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies, Skokie
A snowman doing remote learning by Lewhat W., 11, a fifth-grader at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Skokie.
A snowman doing remote learning by Lewhat W., 11, a fifth-grader at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Skokie.
Provided

Ava M., 11

Fifth grade, Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies, Skokie
Rock ‘n’ roll snowmen by Ava M., 11, a fifth-grader at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Skokie.
Rock ‘n’ roll snowmen by Ava M., 11, a fifth-grader at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies in Skokie.
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