Alison Van Olphen is a triple threat in the creative world. She's an artist, musician and singer.

The 17-year-old high school student stepped out into the world with art exhibits and open mike performances earlier this year.

Van Olphen's friend and fellow musician Gabe Granach described both her art and music as deeply personal.

"Alison's art is so beautiful because it is so uniquely her own," Granach said. "She paints and sings what she feels. Everything she creates reflects where she is in her life and how she sees the world. When she changes, her art changes. I love seeing her come through in her art."

Van Olphen spoke with the Daily Tidings about painting and music and their place in her life.

DT: What school do you go to?

Van Olphen: I go to AHS. However, just this last year I graduated from the Wilderness Charter School.

DT: How long have you been painting?

Van Olphen: I have been painting for two years, but only making art for one.

DT: Was it just something you picked up one day or have you always been interested in art and painting?

Van Olphen: I was definitely always interested in art. It's funny, when I look at my drawings and doodles from when I was a small girl, they look amazingly similar to the kind of stuff I create now &

very colorful and swirly. My old high school didn't offer an art course, so when I came to Ashland from Tucson, Ariz., I just started doing it again and remembered how much I loved it.

DT: Who are some of your favorite painters?

Van Olphen: I don't know about the word favorite. However, I have painters in mind who are most inspiring to me, local artists Jussara Luz Padilha and Abby Lazerow. Both have completely different styles. Their creations are so full of emotion, and require so much skill at the same time. It's a very lovely balance.

DT: In addition to an exhibit at the Gallery DeForest, you've also performed locally as a singer and musician. Talk about your music. When did you start playing guitar?

Van Olphen: I had never held a guitar until this last October. It was definitely something I had always wanted to do, but I never had a guitar to pick up. I have my wonderful guitar teacher to thank, Kerissa Fuccilio. I started writing my own music as soon as I could play a chord progression.

DT: When did you start singing?

Van Olphen: I have been singing my entire life, just not for large crowds. I love to sing.

DT: Who are some of your favorite musicians and singers?

Van Olphen: My music taste varies so much. I can love and enjoy everything from Bach to reggae. I especially love music from various parts of Africa. I find myself listening to the same CD of South African music when I'm in a dancing mood, and when I am ready to go to sleep. Strangely, I don't often find myself listening to the genre of music that I actually write. I love complicated instrumentals. I love to sing myself, but I find something so beautiful when musicians need only an instrument and their own fingers to express what they are trying to say.

DT: Talk about your musical influences.

Van Olphen: As far as my personal music goes, I have great mentorship from my guitar teacher and close friends who get the way I write music. I am in constant awe of how many talented people there are in this town. I love it when there is a group of musicians and artists all together at once and we suddenly find ourselves huddled around a piano or a guitar watching someone play, and then we are all sharing ourselves. It is so much fun and so inspiring.

DT: Is it hard to maintain your grades when you are doing so many creative things?

Van Olphen: Grades &

it's hard having such an alternative opinion of what it means for me to learn. Charter school was awesome because it gave me so much room to express and learn for myself what I felt was important. Next year will be tough. I can manage to function as long as I am taking an art class and have that to look forward to in my day.

DT: What other things are you interested in?

Van Olphen: I am interested in the world. I love to be outside and examine the various stages and colors of the sunset. I love to watch the tourists meander their way through Lithia Park. I am interested in traveling. I want to see and experience as much culture as possible.

DT: What are your plans for the future?

Van Olphen: My plans for the future include going to the University of Oregon to major in art and minor in Spanish. I want to be a teacher. I would love to teach art, but I could also be an English teacher, just a very different kind of English teacher. I want to go to Spain and teach and learn how to play flamenco guitar.

DT: Talk about someone in your family whom you are proud of.

Van Olphen: I am very proud of my cousin Hannah, who just got back from her latest endeavor, teaching English in Barcelona. Not to mention she has been handing me music from the moment I got my first cassette player.

DT: Where can we see your art and hear your music?

Van Olphen: You can visit /alisonvanolphen. However, the recordings aren't the best quality. It was created mostly just for friends and family that are long distances away. I have images of all my art on my MySpace page, as well, /caseyisthugg. Look under my photo albums.