Meet Burlingame’s artists: from a ceramicist to a drummer

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Photos courtesy of Sophia Lemus, Emily Zeng, and Landon Stein

Students from Burlingame High School showcase their various artistic talents.

Michelle Moshkovoy, Staff Reporter

Burlingame is home to countless creative and dedicated student artists, with talents ranging from sculpting to musical instruments. These students have stumbled across art in various ways but all are passionate about it. Some are committed to their craft and want to pursue a career in their respective avenue of art, while others do it for fun. For a few, it’s both.

 

Sophia Lemus made this hand more realistic and zombie-like. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Lemus)

Junior Sophia Lemus has always been interested in fine arts, and began working with ceramics her freshman year.

“I’ve tried painting and drawing, and you know, working on ceramics now in high school. I think ceramics is the most interesting to me because working with something 3D is a lot more fun and engaging than just working with a 2D canvas,” Lemus said.

 Lemus specializes in making ceramic hands and has developed specific methods to shape the clay. 

“I think with [hands], I use sticks to kind of shape any small details. But for the most part, I’m just working with my hands to replicate my own hand,” Lemus said. 

This hand signal means “I love you” in sign language.
(Photo courtesy of Sophia Lemus)

Lemus enjoys the creativity and symbolism that ceramics can showcase. 

“I think the fact that it could be very simple, yet it could send a message or just be something nice to look at [is my favorite part],” Lemus said. 

From making a zombie hand, to a hand that represents “I love you” in sign language, Lemus feels like ceramics, and art in general, has no boundaries. 

“I think art really allows a lot of space for anyone to express [themselves] however they want,” Lemus said. 

For Lemus, creating art pieces can be time consuming. First, Lemus does a basic shaping of the hand, then makes sure the proportions are correct, before making sure that the depth and everything else is right. After all of this is finished, she adds small details, smoothes them out and hollows them. All said and done, the process can take two to three weeks.  

“You apply the fact that everything takes time and effort, to every part of your life, every aspect,” Lemus said. “With any class, you can’t just expect to have an A+ all year, when you’re not giving your max effort. It really teaches you patience because nothing is perfect just at the beginning, and nothing ever really will be, because with art, it’s never done. You can always change some kind of aspect of it.” 

 

 Similar to Lemus, sophomore Emily Zeng also uses art to express herself, in the form of drawing. Zeng has liked drawing since she was a kid, but gradually became more invested in it as she got older. She often uses a pencil and paper, but has recently been doing more pen sketches and acrylic paintings. For Zeng, drawing is a fun activity that allows her to relieve stress.  

“I would say it’s pretty hard [to draw]. If you do it for yourself, it’s less hard because you’re motivated to improve,” Zeng said. “It certainly takes a lot of time … If I were to do a painting, the beginning usually starts out with a sketch, or like an idea of some sort that I would like to do. And then, I think the painting process is the longest part. The painting one, and the blending, oh my God the blending, it would take like a few hours. It depends on the size of the piece,” Zeng said.

From there, Zeng makes finishing touches that are spaced out. She gets inspiration and finds references and concepts for what she wants to draw from artists she follows and Pinterest. 

Zeng used a picture of herself for reference, to draw this self portrait. She didn’t anticipate that it would look like her, but was pleasantly surprised by the result. (Photo courtesy of Emily Zeng)

Zeng doesn’t strictly draw one genre, trying to not limit herself, but to instead express herself in whatever way she sees fit. 

“I think it just depends on how I’m feeling that day. I don’t really know my style that well, so I go back and forth,” Zeng said.

One of Zeng’s favorite pieces of work that she has done, is a self portrait. 

“I was kind of proud of it because it was more of a spur of the moment thing. I just sat down, and I just did that and it turned out pretty well,” Zeng said.

In the future, Zeng hopes to elevate what she has learned from drawing and venture into digital design. 

 

 

While many initially think of art as physical works, there are other types of art that don’t immediately come to mind, like music. Sophomore Landon Stein has been drumming since the third grade, and quickly fell in love with it. Stein is in the jazz ensemble at Burlingame and went to the Stanford University jazz workshop two years ago. 

Landon Stein performing at the Stanford University jazz workshop. (Photo courtesy of Landon Stein)

“I have been playing jazz probably ever since like fourth grade because my drum teacher highly recommended that I would get into it because it’s one of the most fundamental ways of drumming in the history of music,” Stein said.  

It’s also his favorite genre, as it differs from other heavily favored genres, like rock. 

“[Heavy hitting drums] are a little bit basic, but in jazz drumming, it can come down to just the dynamics that you play, and like articulation. There’s a lot more musical theory intertwined into it than other sorts of music,” Stein said. 

Stein’s motivation to continue to drum stems from his genuine passion for it.

“It’s fun. I mean, I don’t know how else to say it other than I just enjoy it,” Stein said. 

With multiple years of drumming under his belt, Steins finds that it has become progressively easier to learn music pieces. 

“It would come down [to] two weeks to a month to get a song in like maybe my first half year of drumming. But with my state of drumming and musicality in my current time period, it’s gotten to as low as however long the song is. I can replicate mostly what it’s based off of on my first try. For [a piece] a little more complex, it would probably take me an extra week to master it,” Stein said.  

Including his performances with the jazz ensemble and other bands, Stein has played many gigs. Right before the pandemic, he played with a jazz combo called Jazz Couch for a couple of years.  

Stein hopes to take his passion and experiences from drumming to new heights, and pursue a career that involves it.

“I don’t have my entire roadmap planned out for my life, but I would say, if I could have one goal to do with my experience in drumming, is to definitely make a career out of it. Like, if I had one wish in life, it would be to be a musician,” Stein said.