Ethan Tines had a good feeling about his computer art piece depicting Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech with the American flag in the background. He had done a number of computer art projects and believed it was one of his best works. Judges at three levels agreed.

Tines, a ninth-grade student at St. Mary Catholic High School, Neenah, won first-place honors in “Computer Art II” in the Catholic Daughters of the Americas 2020 National Education Contest after advancing with first-place awards at the state and local levels. He entered the contest last year through the Catholic Daughters Court Ave Maria #1011 of Appleton. Tines was a student at St. Mary Catholic Middle School at the time.

The annual contest features six categories. In addition to computer art, students compete in art (by hand), essay, poetry, music and photography. The contest is also open to adult members of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas in poetry, art and photography. Themes for the 2020 contest were “Blessed are the peacemakers” from Mt 5:9 or “Living in harmony with others.” Tines said he felt the subject of his work definitely fit both.

“Martin Luther King Jr.’s message is still relevant to this day,” he told The Compass. “During protesting, he maintained a peaceful attitude. That’s what led me to choose him.”

Tines, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Menasha, added that he “didn’t use anything really fancy” when creating his computer art piece. He utilized the Google drawing tool.

“I looked at an image of him side by side with my work,” he said. “The shading, adding in the color to the shading, was the most challenging part. It was difficult to get the colors to match up.”

Tines also does graphite and ink drawings. He said those skills are an asset when doing computer art.

“It’s different than drawing with your hands. You have to use a mouse,” he said. “You use a bunch of angles. I think drawing (experience) normally helps.”

Tines, the son of Antoine and Nicole Tines, received monetary prizes for his first-place honors, but that wasn’t his motivation to enter the contest, he said. Instead, he said he enjoys the creative process and appreciates the recognition.

Tines doesn’t have many of his works of art, he added. He gives his graphite and ink drawings to friends as gifts.

“I usually do landscapes and people, realistic stuff with a lot of detail,” he said. “I usually try to create it as something for them, something they will enjoy. I will take a photo and then draw the photo image with details.”

One advantage of computer art is it’s easy to produce multiple prints. Tines has shared his MLK drawing.

“One of my family members thought that the art piece was so good that she wanted to get it in a frame, so I gave her a copy of it,” he said. “I have printed out copies.”

Art will continue to be his “main thing,” added Tines about his interests. “I’d be open to an artistic career in the future. I know that I will always do art — whether in a professional manner or just for personal enjoyment.”

This story was originally published in The Compass in January 2021 and is shared/reprinted with permission from The Compass.