A stroke of tribute

Family military ties inspires Killdeer student  in VFW poster contest

With a delicate stroke of a surgeon, Kurtlyn Hall captures life images onto the canvas. And with bold strokes, she brings those images to life.

The senior from Killdeer High School is an artist. And the heart-warming images she creates illustrate her own feelings buried deep within her soul.

“I feel at peace when I draw,” Hall said, with a timid smile.

The “peace” helped Hall win first place in the district competition of the VFW Auxiliary’s Young American Creative Patriotic Art Contest. She drew a poster using colored pencils of three soldiers standing in front of the United States flag.

The poster was inspired by her own family’s military ties. Her grandfather and two uncles served in the U.S. military.

She was one of nearly 3,500 high school students from across the county to participate in the contest. The contest began in 1979 to recognize up-and-coming artists and encourage patriotism in youth, according to the VFW Auxiliary website.

The contest has three levels, district, state and nationals. The district judging was conducted in Dickinson on April 10. Hall’s poster qualified for the state judging, which was slated for April 15. She’s still waiting on the results of the state judging.

If she wins the state competition, Hall will be eligible for national awards totaling $21,000.

Hall was not the only one from Killdeer whose work was highly thought of in the district contest. Bridgette Reiss was second for her poster of a soldier in prayer, and Taycee Butts was third for a portrait of her father in uniform.

While being recognized if fun, that’s not why Hall draws, paints and creates.

“I just want to capture who they are,” she said.

She’s been doing that since she was 12 years old. Hall got her start in art by watching her older sister draw. She started with cartoons, but then one day saw the picture of a celebrity.

“I just wanted to draw it. I drew the face. It looked pretty bad,” she chuckled.”But I got better.”

Better indeed.

Last summer she was accepted in the Oscar Howe Summer Art Institute at the University of South Dakota. For two weeks, she worked with artists and art students from the upper Midwest, using charcoal and acrylic paints, sharpening her budding skills and opening up a fresh perspective of live and art.

“It was fun and it helped me a lot,” she said.

Killdeer art teacher Cherie Roshau convinced Hall to enter the VFW contest. Hall is glad she did.

Hall had a military magazine at home, and she found three different pictures of soldiers. One picture showed the soldier standing tall and proud while holding his helmet under his arm. The other two were close ups that showed strengths, pride and courage in their faces.

It took her a couple of hours to draw the soldiers. And while she didn’t know the men in the pictures, by the end she felt a connection, almost as if they were her grandfather and uncles.

Her final touch was a colorful drawing of a flapping Old Glory, which took her two more hours.

“I wanted to show the patriotism and what they fought for,” Hall said.

Mission accomplished, said Roshau.

“Her strength in drawing is she has a good understanding in structure and muscle,” Roshau said. “They all look like they had a great deal of pride in what they are doing.”      


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