Di Johnson knew when her 2-year-old son was drawing recognizable cartoon characters that he had an artistic talent. But to what extent that talent would grow, she could only imagine.
Steven Johnson attended a four-week summer program at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., last month.
"It was really quite astounding," said Johnson, the mother of 17-year-old Steven Johnson. "We didn't know where his talent would go and, unfortunately, we didn't save many of his earlier drawings."
Where Steven gets his artistic talent from is unknown, but Johnson said her family is comprised of several visual artists.
"We just believe it's a God-given talent," said Steven, who lives in Evans with his mother and father, Vic Johnson. "We really don't know where it comes from."
Juana Haroldson recognized Steven's talent when he was 7 years old and helped to provide him with a background in the various arts during their private lessons.
"He needed a teacher at such a young age and he needed private lessons," said Haroldson, who retired two years ago as art instructor at Evans High School.
"You usually don't start children at that young age with private lessons. But we decided that Steven did need private lessons. He has a gift that he was born with and he has an ability to see things in his mind and put it down on paper where most of us could not visualize that."
Haroldson vividly remembers taking Steven to his elementary school playground and having him sketch what he saw. She took the lesson a step further and asked him to place characters in the drawing.
"He drew this character catapulting in the air from beneath," said Haroldson, remembering her astonishment at how her student could visualize something of that magnitude in his mind and draw it on paper. "It just amazed me what he could see in his mind."
Steven took his talent to another level last month when he attended a four-week summer program at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla. The program matched students with professors who teach classes in areas of their interests. Steven also worked with a student at Ringling who served as a teacher's aide.
"I'm planning to apply to Ringling in the fall," said Steven, a senior at Evans High. "I want to major in computer animation."
During the summer program, Steven was presented an award of excellence in his computer animation class.
"I really enjoy technology and computer games," said Steven, who still hand draws most of his work, mainly comical cartoons. "I believe that hand drawing will continue, as there will always be a need for concept drawing."
Evans High art teacher Pamela Segers sees Steven's artistic talent as one that will take him to great places.
"He's a student that's been working hard from early on," she said. "He's very motivated and self-driven."
Segers, who has been the art teacher at Evans High for two years and previously was an art teacher in Atlanta for 22 years, says Steven is one of the most talented students she's ever had.
"I see a great future for him," she said. "He's one of the top students I've ever taught. He just has great potential and drive."
For Mrs. Johnson, who has watched her son's talent grow from his earliest years, the "dream is now within reach."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.