March is Youth Art Month!

The question “Why is art important?” is a big question. But Jouett Middle School 8th grader Hayden Holland had a big answer.

“Art is how people who aren’t good with words can express themselves,” she said. “If you can’t think of how to say it, you can draw a picture. People have been doing it since the start of humanity, all the way back to caveman drawings.”

That’s one of the reasons Hayden does art.

“When I can’t figure out how to say something, I can just draw a picture of it to express myself,” she said.

Hayden has been making art since she could pick up a pencil, she said. It started out as drawing “heart people” — a heart shaped character with arms and legs. Over the years, pencil has become her preferred medium, especially when working on her favorite technique, hyper-realism, although she also occasionally dabbles in digital art.

Hayden Holland, an 8th-grader at Jouett Middle School, displays one of her favorite pieces from her sketchbook.

Hayden Holland, an 8th-grader at Jouett Middle School, displays one of her favorite pieces from her sketchbook.

This summer, Hayden is looking to expand her talent at Reflections, a Summer Regional Governor’s School Program. In the program, she’s looking forward to being challenged to expand her style and develop new techniques.

One of her new classmates in the program, Victoria Henderson, an 8th grader at Lakeside Middle School, is hoping to do the same thing.

“I’m hoping to get myself out of my comfort zone and try some new things,” she said. While her current style has a more “cartoon-y” look, as Victoria describes it, she’s hoping to do more work in realism at the 10-day summer program.

Victoria said she’s been developing her own style of art since she started focusing on art more in the fourth grade. And while her style is strong throughout her sketchbook, she’s looking forward to seeing what she can add to her repertoire.

Started in 1990, the Reflections program is the only regional Governor’s visual arts program for middle school students in Virginia. To be selected to attend the school, students were required to submit a portfolio to be judged by a committee on things like originality or ideas and approach, ability to express ideas or feelings visually, adaptability in working on the art product or willingness to make improvements or fix mistakes, and many other characteristics.

Victoria Henderson, an 8th-grader at Lakeside Middle, poses with a self-portrait.

Victoria Henderson, an 8th-grader at Lakeside Middle, poses with a self-portrait.

And although Victoria is excited to be expanding her art horizons, the most important thing is still her self-expression.

“It’s not good to keep all that stuff cramped up in your head,” she said. “You have to get it out somehow.”

To learn more about Reflections, please visit the Reflections homepage.