By Allyson Oken
Senior Josh Potter and Junior Carlo Del Valle, both students at Paso Robles High School, have hit the big time, selling their very own works of art out of the new student art gallery at Studios on the Park.
Studios on the Park and the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District have joined forces to provide free arts education to all students in the district. The first of a series of art exhibits featuring student work was debuted at a reception Saturday, Nov. 14, during Paso Robles’ annual Elegant Holiday Evening Downtown. Both Potter and Del Valle were part of the first display and sold work just a few months into the showing.
Del Valle sold his work entitled, “Intimidation,” for $175. This is the first work of art Del Valle has sold out of the student art gallery and he was very pleased to see it sell. He said his artistic process involves taking his time.
“I first decided to use the graphite and black and white pencil, blending sticks and, of course, an eraser,” Del Valle said. “It was hard to choose what to draw in the beginning, but then I saw this lion and thought, ‘I like lions,’ and went with that. It was a side project in class and took a few months to finish. Our teacher assigned projects that we worked on while we were working on independent projects and having us do that helped us to slow down and look at all the details to make the work the best it can be. I chose the lion because it is my favorite animal and it is a very intimidating creature.”
Del Valle will have two more works up this weekend for sale at the gallery. He said that his teacher was planning to hang two mixed media works, both graphite, colored pencil and water color; with a more abstract approach to the artistic style. With plans to attend an art school, develop graphics for a clothing line, work in the gallery on weekend and be a tri-athlete, Del Valle has a bright future ahead of him.
Potter, who is a senior this year, explained that he is a potter by nature and name. He said he throws pots, vases, makes plates, mugs and even delves into the abstract, shaping clay into forms that appeal to him. So far Potter has sold two mugs out of the gallery for $56. He said the best part is having the freedom to create what he likes.
“I have been working on a large vase that is two and a half feet tall and just finished a plate that is very large with a complex glaze that transitions from dark to light blues that I really like,” Potter said. “It is really great to have the freedom to create what I see in my head. My teacher gives me a lot of freedom to create whatever my imagination comes up with.”
Potter is also a tri-athlete, an accomplished wood worker and was scouted by University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, a college in Texas he will be attending next fall. His concentration will be marketing, but he said he would still be throwing pots on the side.
Potter and Del Valle said that their teachers are very supportive and allow for them to have freedom.
“My teacher actually has us go through breathing exercise to get into that creative mindset and he is very supportive of the work we all do,” Del Valle said.
The student art gallery project is funded through Kids Art Smart, a program at Studio son the Park that began in 2011 with a one-time grant. It has since evolved into a program that offers about 5,000 Paso Robles school district students free arts education.
Eileen Higgins took up Paso Robles Joint Unified School District’s new position of Visual and Performing Arts Specialist just last year. She has been working to develop these types of community connections to help arts students find direction and career opportunities that will help them be successful in the future.
“It is our goal in this school district to prepare students to enter the working world with the skills necessary for success,” Higgins said. “Our connection with Studios on the Park has been phenomenal for our arts students, who not only show work in their own gallery, but have the opportunity to work there and learn from other professional artists who have made this a career.”
These learning opportunities are open to all Paso Robles School District attendees. Any students interested should contact their art teacher on campus or visit studiosonthepark.org/education/kids-art-smart.php to find out more about the program.