Young At Art

Art is the expression of the soul… and when is the soul more pure and the imagination more alive than in the heart of a child? Young eyes view an unblemished world through inquisitive, innocent eyes, lending a unique perspective to that which for most of us has taken on the patina of time. Marion County is home to many young artists whose talents provide us all a fresh, new look at the world around us.

Life is Art

Ra’ahunte’ Grier

believes life is best expressed through the artist’s pencil or brush. The 18-year-old senior at North Marion High School has been drawing for as long as he can remember.

“I began drawing as soon as I was able to hold a pencil in my hand,” he says. “A certain amount of artistic ability is inborn, and I consider mine a God-given gift, but it also takes a lot of hard work and you have to be willing to learn. I have had some great teachers, and they have really helped me in my ability to draw and paint. One in particular is Ms. Maria Vasquez; she took me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to express myself in a more colorful way.”

Ra’ahunte’ says he is inspired by hyper-realistic artist Chuck Close and aspires to have his drawings visually come to life on paper or canvas. Hyper-realism produces hand-drawn or painted works of art that cannot be discerned from a high-resolution photograph with the naked eye.

“Most of my works are portraits of someone I know or of celebrities, but sometimes I simply imagine someone and draw my own creation. There is a lot of emotion involved… and to me art is internal emotion expressed outwardly,” he says. “My drawings represent a part of me, and each one is unique.”

Ra’ahunte’ hopes to make art his life’s work. He hopes to attend Full Sail University, which offers education in the entertainment and media industry.

“My dream is to make art my career,” he says. “I would love nothing more than to be able to spend my life doing what I love most—bringing my art to life.”

Oceans Of Talent

William L. Peterson

loves to draw anything that has to do with the sea.

“I love the ocean,” he says excitedly. “This past year we went to the Keys, and I saw the crystal clear water, and we went snorkeling. I even got to swim near a sea turtle. It was great, and it made me want to draw even more things to do with the ocean, like dolphins and coral.”

William, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Ft. McCoy School, lives with his mom, Mary, and dad, Pete, in Silver Springs. Pete is a second generation sign-maker and owner of Pete Peterson Signs. William can be found most days working with his dad in the shop.

“My dad started this business, and I took it over, and one day it could be William’s,” says Pete.

“I like helping my dad, and I do think that one day this will be my business,” William says, “because I always want drawing and art to be a part of my life.”

William says that when he feels stressed, all he has to do is get a good sharp pencil and some paper, and it calms him down quickly. He says his art teacher at Ft. McCoy, Ms. Jo Anne Dillard, has helped him to become better with his art through “constructive criticism.”

“I love to draw, and I am also learning to paint,” he says. “I love to use my imagination when I draw. Sometimes I draw things like mermaids you might see in a cartoon, and sometimes I draw things I have seen when we go to the ocean during the summer.”

Ms. Dillard says William is a “most awesome student” who is polite and courteous, presenting drawings to his teachers and friends as gifts.

Renaissance Girl

Victoria Russo

was raised in a home filled with art and love. Her mother, Lisa, is a master oil painter, and Victoria has attended art museums and professional art shows all across the Southeast at her mother’s side.

 Victoria, age 10, is a fifth-grade student at Harbour View Elementary where Lisa is her art teacher. At her home in Ocklawaha, Victoria creates art in practically every medium imaginable.

 “I love to make things. I especially love to draw with colored pencils,” she says, her voice tinged with excitement. “We have two dogs at home, and I love to draw them and pictures of other animals. Colored pencils are my favorite because I can make fine lines with them and I like the different colors.”

 Victoria also showcases her artistic abilities in basket weaving, ceramics, painting, dance, singing, skating and video production.

 “I love to skate, and I am a national champion artistic skater. I made a documentary film about skating called My Life in Skates. It won first place at the county and regional FAME Media Festival and placed thirdin the state,” she says.

So what does this artistically inclined Renaissance Girl want to do when she grows up?

 “I want to be a teacher… not an art teacher like my mom,” she says matter-of-factly. “I will always love to draw and create, but I want to be a fourth- or fifth-grade teacher and teach kids.”

From The Heart

Leslie Lopezwas

As a young girl,Leslie Lopezwas fascinated with eyes. She loved the detail involved in making them come to life. She began adding other facial features to her drawings, and soon she became an accomplished portrait artist.

Leslie’s home in Summerfield contains many portraits she has drawn of family and friends. However, one of the portraits most important to her is one she drew of a total stranger.

“When I was in middle school, a woman named Helen Greenspun visited our English class,” says Leslie. “This woman was a Holocaust survivor. Her story was so inspiring, and it affected me so much that I wanted to give her something to let her know how much she had touched my life. I saw an old weathered photo of her when she was about 20 years old, and I drew her portrait from the picture. When she returned to our class, I presented it to her, and it moved her so much that it brought tears to her eyes. She still has the portrait I drew of her, and that makes me feel so good inside.”

Leslie, a 17-year-old junior at Belleview High School, draws with graphite pencils, colored pencils and charcoal and paints with acrylics.

“One of my drawings won first place in the Ocala Art Show, and two more won second place. One of the second place winners was displayed in the Appleton Museum,” she says. “Art is so important to me; it helps me express my feelings and emotions.”

Making Her Mark

Mya Velez

was born with the ability to draw… and draw she did.

“When Mya was about 3 years old she drew a picture on the wall of our dining room,” says her father, David. “It was so good that I left it there, and when I paint our dining room I will paint a frame around it and make sure it is always a part of our home.”

Mya, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Greenway Elementary School, says that drawing keeps her calm.

“I am always calm at school, but when I am at home, I am a wild mess,” Mya says excitedly. “So I find some paper and a pencil and I sit down to draw, and it calms me down.”

David says Mya has left her mark “all over our house.”

“She has drawn on our kitchen table, and the walls of her room are covered with beautiful drawings… like a mural,” he says. “I joke with her and tell her that her first paycheck will have to buy a new table and paint for the walls… but I would never cover up her art.”

Mya says she started out drawing cartoon characters when she was younger, and now she draws portraits of teachers and family members or uses her imagination to draw characters she creates.

“I love to draw,” she says. “My favorite is to draw pictures of girls that I make up in my head.”


Bjorn Scribben

In the eighth grade, West Port High School senior Bjorn Scribben’s art teacher told him he needed to check out an app called Instagram. Bjorn gave it a look and was hooked on photography.

He has been a part of the Marion County Center for the Arts Creative Photography program for the past four years and has impressed his teachers with his skills.

“In the beginning, I took photos with my iPod, but then I bought a Canon T3 Rebel, and that’s what I use now,” he says. “I like my photography to be conceptual and to convey emotion. I do a lot of self-portraits using a tripod and timer.”

Bjorn isn’t sure if photography will be a vocation or remain a hobby but says it gives him a chance to release his own emotions.

“I sometimes use my photography to show the sadness and seriousness of the world around me, and sometimes I just like to have fun,” he says. “I like to be abstract and catch unique situations in my shots.”

Posted in Ocala Style Features

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