Archived Story

Diver discovers another talent

Published 4:45am Monday, April 29, 2013 Updated 6:46am Monday, April 29, 2013

Michael Aasness’s name hangs on the walls of the Kennedy Secondary School Pool for years of diving records and achievements. Now, his name is on the wall near the school entrance for a different reason.

Aasness recently completed a nature painting of several swimming otters for Keith Pearson’s science classroom, as part of an independent art study with teacher Peder Butenhoff. His gifted hand caught the eye of the rest of the school and the painting is now up for everyone to see.

“I just like that it’s going to be in the school for people to see,” Aasness said. “Coach Hartwell tells us to leave a legacy and I wanted to leave something other than just my name on the wall in the pool.”

Even more impressive, this is Aasness’s first year of art classes. While he said he has always been a drawer, it was the first time he had studied the subject seriously, even with his busy year of diving and second place finish at the state competition.

“When I was finished with state, I was thinking about getting back to work on the painting,” Aasness said. “I was always looking forward to working on it. This class is my favorite of the day.”

To finish the independent art study, students need to complete a commissioned project for the community. Because of his interest in anatomy, Aasness thought the painting of the otters would fit well in a science classroom and promote school spirit.

It took Aasness more than three months to finish the painting after studying the shape of the otters and drawing their figures. He chose oil paint for the realism and glossy finish it gives to make it stand out. With the project so long because of the detail – he used 12 different sized brushes for the fur, grass and water – Aasness had to use the patience he’s developed as a diver to get the final product.

“Diving is detail, detail, detail. I wanted to get the painting done, but I had to pay so much attention to that detail,” Aasness said. “It just shows when you put the effort into it, you can come out with something great.”

Aasness also finished in second place overall this year at the Regional High School Show at the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center for his figure of a grizzly bear on an armature with wax.

After graduation, Aasness will be diving in the Division I program at South Dakota State. He plans to study sports medicine and training, but is also considering art education.

“I like being in front of people, so I’d like to teach kids and show them my abilities so they can further theirs. That would be a neat connection,” Aasness said. “To be passing down artistic abilities to kids and to show them their potential, that would be cool.”

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