A new view: Student art published

Rangely High School sophomore Jess Tolley holds her painting of a snow leopard, which was chosen to be included in the annual Celebrating Art publication last year. Tolley’s pencil drawing of an angel was selected for this year’s publication.
Rangely High School sophomore Jess Tolley holds her painting of a snow leopard, which was chosen to be included in the annual Celebrating Art publication last year. Tolley’s pencil drawing of an angel was selected for this year’s publication.
RANGELY I Jess Tolley didn’t realize art was her passion until it helped her see the world in a new way.
The Rangely High School sophomore took her first art class from instructor Julia Davis last year. In the class she learned to see everyday objects through the lens of shape and form, which opened up the potential of art for her.
“I saw the world a lot differently after that,” Tolley said. “You notice all the colors and hues. When you’re drawing, you can just see all the lines of everything. It’s a lot different than when you don’t know that stuff.”
Since middle school, Tolley has wanted to give life to the ideas in her head. She just wasn’t sure where to start. Davis was ready to work with Tolley’s drive and interest, which she said will help Tolley excel in her art.
“The thing that kind of sets Jess apart as someone who will always do well in art is that she’ll always try something new,” Davis said. “She’s always willing to get better. A lot of people feel like art is about having a lot of talent, but it’s also 90 percent work. Jess is willing to put in the work to get better.”
Lately, people have started to notice that work. As a freshman, and then again this last December, Tolley earned a spot in Celebrating Art’s annual publication, a full-color hardcover book highlighting the work of children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The organization partners with art instructors to hone students’ artistic interests and abilities.
Celebrating Art is also selective in the art it prints. Only one-quarter of the work submitted is chosen for publication.
So when Tolley heard that her artwork, the first an acrylic painting of a snow leopard and the second a graphically enhanced pencil drawing of an angel, had been accepted, it was hard to restrain her reaction.
“The first time (I got accepted), Ms. Davis told me in the hallway and a bunch of people were around,” Tolley said. “I had to stop myself from jumping up and down and screaming. I was really happy.”
But getting published is just one aspect of a passion that has become more and more a part of Tolley’s daily life. Like the way she creates pictures based on the music she happens to be listening to.
“I don’t exactly choose the pictures I draw some days,” Tolley said. “I listen to music, the music puts a picture in my head, and I draw it.”
The 15-year-old knows that the continued support of parents Bertha and Mark will be key to her future, one version of which has her designing cartoons for the likes of Walt Disney. But no matter how her art plays itself out beyond high school, Tolley can appreciate what it does for her now.
“Art is a way to get rid of stress and express your emotions,” Tolley said. “I’ll keep doing it.”