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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Looking into the Abstract World of Senior Jake Toddings


“Chaos” is the first word that comes to mind when I look at the artworks of Jake Toddings (’24). The vibrant splatters of paint, the blunt streaks of markers, and the violent yet controlled scratches of words scream of nonconformity — yes, he is definitely an abstract artist. A raw burst of emotions can be felt from the dynamic colors as well as a facetious combination of words that would make the school administrators gasp with fury.

“My Father’s Dragon” by Jake Toddings

Toddings is an experienced artist who has participated in multiple shows with galleries. Some of the shows he participated in include those with the Agora Gallery in Manhattan, the Flywheel Gallery in Piermont, and Ugly Studio in Leonia, New Jersey. Although Ugly Studio has turned into an agency, Toddings still remains in professional contact with its administrators. Toddings has also worked with the Hash Halper World of Arts Organization, which is a charitable organization dedicated to the legendary NYC street artist Hash Halper.

Toddings developed his passion for art two summers ago when one day, out of boredom, he decided to paint. After asking his grandmother to help him buy some art supplies, he started painting, and immediately found it a relaxing activity. 

“I paint as a form of therapy,” Toddings said. “It’s helpful. I usually portray the [same] sense of comfortability and vulnerability in [my] painting.”

As many can assume from looking at his paintings, Toddings’ splatter-paint style was heavily influenced by the American painters Jean-Michel Basquiat and Philip Guston, who were both known for their bold and unique imagery. According to Toddings, his works were also compared to those of the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. Nevertheless, Toddings seems to be exploring his capabilities by experimenting with different ways to create a unique look to his paintings. 

“[My work process] depends on the type of painting,” Toddings said. “If I’m just splattering something, maybe I’ll paint on the canvas first and then throw color onto it. Sometimes, I’ll push two canvases together covered in paint [and shake it] to see what it looks like. I also tried ripping old canvas materials, attaching them to another canvas, and painting over them.”

Untitled artwork by Jake Toddings

Despite the pressure to develop traditional skill sets as an artist, Toddings feels a great joy and pride in the abstract style he has developed over the past two years. 

“I’ve been told by a lot of people to try out different styles,” Toddings said. “But the only reason I like to paint is because it makes me feel good. I can be free and it makes me feel proud to make something. So, regardless of how [the painting looks], as long as it makes you feel good, then that’s the only thing that matters.”

Toddings is also a strong believer that, unlike popular belief, artworks don’t require any hidden meaning or symbolism. Although he has created a few pieces that are personal to him, he puts his priority into the visuals of a piece rather than incorporating a thought-provoking theme into it.

“I don’t think every painting needs to have some long, drawn-out story behind it,” Toddings said. “Sometimes I just make a painting and think it looks cool. I’m not professionally trained or anything like that — I just paint because I like to.”

After graduating from THS, Toddings will be attending the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which is one of the leading art schools in the country. “I want to continue the path that I’m already on,” Toddings said. “I like to share my art, and it’s nice to connect with other people on it. That’s pretty much my goal.”

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About the Contributor
Heeseo Yoon
Heeseo Yoon, Junior Editor
Heeseo Yoon ('25), Echo's Junior Editor, enjoys writing about world affairs and creating cartoons.