Local artist has eye for the unusual
Loren Hein comes from a family of ceramic artists.
His maternal grandmother was an art major in college.
The grandmother would pass her passion for art onto Loren's mother, Maura.
"She always encouraged me to take art classes," Maura said.
By the time Loren was born, the kilns and makeshift ceramics studio at the family's Leavenworth County home had already been in place. Working with ceramic art would be inevitable for Loren.
"The kilns came first and then he came," Maura said.
"He's been doing this ever since he could hold a piece of clay or a paint brush," she said.
Hein, 13, and entering his eighth-grade year at Basehor-Linwood Middle School, has won numerous awards at the Leavenworth County Fair for his ceramic artwork.
This year, Hein could add to his list of awards.
He is set to enter at least four intermediate level pieces at the county fair, which begins Monday, Aug. 12.
"I just keep doing (artwork) for fun," Hein said.
But another family trait, passed down from paternal grandfather to father to Hein, makes the teen-ager's work all the more interesting.
Hein is colorblind.
Colorblindness is defined as a deficiency of color perception, whether hereditary or acquired, partial or complete.
Hein can see colors, but sometimes has a problem distinguishing certain shades.
"He might look at a purple and see it as a blue," Maura said.
Hein, however, believes the deficiency has no bearing on his artwork, which can be described as non-traditional. The uniqueness of his artwork comes more from imagination than deficiency.
Take for example one of his favorite ceramics pieces he calls super duck.
It is a molded ceramic piece painted in unusual metallic colors with the letters SD printed on the chest. When painting the piece, Hein wasn't afraid to try something different.
"Most people would keep in the lines, but he made his own design," Maura said.
"His painting is unique because he doesn't paint things in traditional colors. He paints with colors that he likes."
Hein will tinker with the physical aspects of his ceramic pieces as well.
Sometimes he'll add things like corn or macaroni to the pieces to add texture. Or he'll give his clay animals a second head.
"I just build them however," he said. "I just kind of do it as I go."
Although Maura said her son's works come from his own ideas, it's clear the teen-ager has the proper outlet to exercise his creative license.
Maura teaches a ceramics class for local 4-H members from her home during the week. She's taught the class for 19 years.
"I just think kids need an environment to be creative," she said.
"Some people have a swimming pool. We have a kiln and clay."
Hein said he looks forward to the county fair in August, but isn't concerned about winning more awards.
Maura said creating the work and shaping its direction is what appeals to the young artist.
"He's not really into the ribbons," she said. "He's just more into enjoying what he's doing."