It's rewarding, of course, to beat out young artists from all over northern Illinois in a contest. Doubly so when that victory comes with two plane tickets to visit your mom.
For Tabitha Hein, the path to victory started in New Orleans, where her mom was stationed with the U.S. Coast Guard. Tabby, a senior at Huntley High School, visited her mom there -- a rare occurrence these days -- and became intrigued with the city's different architecture.
Inspired by her trip, she made a colored-pencil drawing of buildings in the French Quarter and entered it into a contest whose first prize was two airline tickets to Washington, D.C., where her mom now is stationed.
The Illinois 16th Congressional District High School Art Competition invites high school artists to submit pieces, and Tabby beat out everyone, including the other 15 entries at her school alone.
When her art teacher assigned Tabby's class to create an architectural piece, she decided to draw the buildings she remembered from New Orleans, and called the piece "French Quarter."
"I thought it was really cool, but I did not expect to win at all," she said.
As part of the prize, Tabby's drawing will hang in the Capitol. There will be a reception in June for all of the Congressional District winners in the state.
Tabby said she planned to visit her mom in the summer, but winning the contest makes it that much better. Now, she will be able to reconnect with her mom and have the chance to show off her work to movers and shakers, as well as other family members who live near Washington.
This isn't the first award Tabby has won for her art. In the past year, she took the Huntley High School Art Department award for her Advanced Art class, exhibited a self portrait at the Rockford Art Museum Young Artists Show and won a merit award for a 3-D piece at the Fox Valley Conference Art Show at McHenry County College. Last year she exhibited a printmaking piece in the high school Performing Arts Gallery.
Jillian Corapi, Tabby's art teacher for two years, said each contest Tabby entered has had great competition.
"She came into class with really strong artistic skills to begin with but has only improved and continued to excel," Corapi said.
To create "French Quarter," Tabby used different shading and blending techniques with colored pencils. She also handcrafted the railings in the picture with thin wire and cut precise layers of matting board to give the picture depth.
"The whole piece probably took her four to five weeks including some out of class time," Corapi said.
Tabby will continue her art education next year when she takes classes at McHenry Community College.
Congressman Don Manzullo's office announced the winners Monday. The second place winner was Michael Anthony Abboreno, from Jacobs High School in Algonquin.