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The stroke of a painter's brush -- Young Waubun student shows promise on first

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wave Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

For a first time painting on canvas, ninth grader Lera Hephner has proven she has a talent for it.

As a part of her art class earlier this school year, the Waubun 15-year-old chose to paint David Bradley's "Pow Wow Princess in the Process of Acculturation."

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"I was very surprised I could do that," she said of the end result.

During the class, students were assigned to do a 2-D drawing and painting. Although she has been drawing since she was little and playing around with water colors, this was her first attempt at acrylic paints. She learned mixing colors was difficult.

She said most people see red as red, blue as blue, purple as purple, but in actuality, there are many shades of red, blue and purple, and it's very difficult to mix the same color at different times.

To decide what painting to do, Waubun High School art teacher Nadine Walker had students look through posters and see what caught their eye. Hephner said the Mona Lisa-style painting caught her eye because of the details.

"What first drew me to it was the crown," she said.

Hephner participates in her native culture, including dance, and has earned the title of princess as well.

When she looked closer, she noticed the colors, the mountains, a ring, a cigarette, a dollar bill and all the details that someone could overlook at first glance.

Once the piece was chosen, students took a couple sections of the poster and practiced painting that section. Those sections worked out for Hephner, so she sketched the powwow princess on her canvas and started painting.

She said the three- to four-week process had her frustrated at times because she's a perfectionist -- which shows in her work -- and she was determined to do the painting justice.

Once finished, Hephner's painting was amazingly similar to the original.

"I could tell she was being real intense, her attention to detail," Walker said. "Her change from one color to the next was exceptional control of the medium."

Hephner's work ethic -- she's a straight A student -- shines through in more than just her paintings.

"She's a young lady of excellence in all academics, not just art," Walker added. "She's accomplished at anything she puts her hands to."

After students were finished with their projects, Walker then chose several students who "put extra work and extra effort into their art work" to be a part of a display that hung in the Plains Art Museum in Fargo during the month of March, celebrating Youth Art Month.

Along with Hephner's painting were Cayla Bellanger's painting of Katsushika Hokusai's "Mt. Fuji in Clear Weather," Karissa Brown's painting of Henri Matisse's "Harmony in Red" and Rebecca Sura's painting of W.B. Franklin's "Sacred Songs."

The student artists and their families were welcomed to a reception at the museum, where they were given an art demonstration by Walter Piehl Jr., a one-time rodeo man turned artist with his Contemporary Cowboy pieces.

The art class then got to take a field trip to the museum to see the works of art on display. Hephner said seeing the original of the painting she used for inspiration was amazing, noting it was much larger in size than she had imagined.

While she's not certain what she'll be doing in her future, Hephner said she plans to keep art a part of it.

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