Making Characters Come To Life: Loy Norrix Student Recalls Her Art Background

By Kinsey Skjold

Jaylene Ballesteros
Jaylene Ballesteros, a sophomore at Loy Norrix High School, sketches during some down time in class. Drawing has been a passion of her’s since middle school, and has been perfecting her art skills for many years. Photo Credit, Kinsey Skjold

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time,” author and artist Thomas Merton once said.

This line pertains to young up-and-coming artists everywhere, particularly in the case of sophomore Jaylene Ballesteros, whose semi-realistic portraits have been a major part of who she is for many years.

Ballesteros is an avid video game player and a rising artist. Although she has recently begun experimenting with digital mediums in her art, Jaylene still prefers drawing and painting by hand.

“I like the physical copy of the traditional piece,” said Jaylene.

Jaylene credits her two older siblings introduced her to gaming and artistry, a major reason for her developed interest in those activities, particularly in drawing and painting. As a child, she loved to watch anime, the fascination for which evolved into a desire to draw the characters she saw on the television screen.  

Jaylene started painting with watercolor when she was in middle school. She began collecting art supplies around that time as well, but “it’s so expensive!” she lamented with a lighthearted laugh. Ever since middle school, Jaylene’s style has developed from watercolor painting to drawings with colored pencils and semi-realism. Semi-realism combines realistic attributes and stylized or comical depictions of a scene or person. While her works may not look exactly true to life, they provide an image of otherwise cartoonish characters as more realistic and relatable. Jaylene said that her art generally focuses on the upper body with very few elements present in the background, although she mentioned that recently, she has been working on adding a realist structure to her repertoire.

A few of Jaylene’s classmates have noticed that she frequently draws minuscule sketches in class to pass the time though the long, drawn out hours of the school day. At request, she even draws illustrations for select friends who value her artistic talent.   

“She’s always so focused and at peace,” remarked fellow sophomore Natacia Branstrom.

With all of her artistic aspirations, many would assume that Jaylene takes advantage of the art programs available at Norrix. However, she is a self-taught artist, with the exception of a few YouTube videos. She dislikes the confines of traditional art classes.

“I don’t like art classes, I don’t like drawing what they want me to draw,” she stated matter-of-factly.

Jaylene prefers to have freedom in her artistic pursuits and doesn’t like to be tied down to the time constraints and requirements of an art class.

Jaylene said that she is unsure about what she will pursue art after high school but is considering either continuing her art career or making a start in business. Her dad started a business when she was younger, and she was inspired by his success.

“I thought it was cool seeing him going from nothing to having his [stuff] together,” Jaylene recalled fondly.

She said that she will more than likely take art classes in college, as she wants to have a career that involves art at least to some degree, and college courses will provide her with more creative freedom.

It is unclear whether Jaylene will be leaving behind the thrill of artistic expression after high school, but her experiences thus far have stimulated vast creativity and a passion for growth, traits that will continue to inspire her no matter where life may lead.

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