Winner Caitlin Rash and her carp painting. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

The exotic carp vibrates with fiery oranges and yellows as it rises to the surface, sending turquoise ripples across the pond's dark expanse. You're hypnotised, in danger of falling in.

Not really. You're actually looking at the mesmeric oil painting Koi by 17-year-old former Applecross Senior High School student Caitlin Rash, winner of this year's Year 12 Perspectives 2011 Santos People's Choice Award. The annual Year 12 Perspectives showcases the work of talented Year 12 visual art students from across the State.

This year, Koi was voted by gallery visitors the most popular of 55 pieces. More than 28,000 people visited the exhibition, which ends on Monday.

Caitlin, who is studying fine arts at Curtin, said she was inspired by expressionist painting.

"Those big, flowing brush strokes," she said. "And the idea that why portray reality when you can do so much more with your work?"

Caitlin said she had to do some planning for the large, two-panel painting but prefers spontaneity.

"I hadn't planned the colours," she said. "I just worked with them as they came along."

She hadn't even intended to paint a koi. "I had a completely different idea," she said. "But then I saw a painting of a koi and thought 'wow, there's so much movement here'."

Caitlin has always been interested in art and had her first lessons when she was five.

"Ever since then it's been my passion," she said. "I would really love to become a full-time artist. But art will always be with me, no matter what I do."

Caitlin wins a trip for two to the Art Gallery of South Australia and 30 tickets for her school to visit the WA Art Gallery exhibition Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters, opening in June.

The West Australian

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