Raymore, Mo. -- A junior at Raymore-Peculiar High School has won a big national art contest using a video gaming system to create the work she submitted to the contest. Along with that award, Shelly McClendon got a phenomenal grand prize. A $20,000 grand prize. And this week's Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achiever is giving half of it to Ray-Pec's High's art department to benefit many other art students besides herself.
She admits she's a bit shy but there's nothing shy about Shelly McClendon as an artist. Shelly especially likes drawing in pen and ink but enjoys creating in many other ways, too.
"I usually have a theme and in my head I kind of visualize what I think," says Shelly. "And then I use inspiration around me to progress it and make it look better. I believe all the talent I have is from God. So I usually try to portray something Christian through my artwork."
And Shelly is anything but shy when it comes to stepping out of her comfort zone to try new art forms.
"Shelly will try anything," says Amy Hellums who has taught Shelly art at Raymore-Peculiar High School in Peculiar, Missouri, where Shelly is a junior.
"She doesn't restrain herself, like, 'Oh, I've never done that before so I'm not going to do it.' When I see her artwork, it's not like she does the same thing over and over. She'll try something different in clay, something different with her computer graphics and something else with her drawing and painting."
Her fearless and adventurous art spirit has led Shelly to submit her work to art contests that she finds in magazines and online.
"It's just a way of getting your art out to the world," says Shelly. "Other people can see it."
As she was researching art contests to enter, Shelly discovered one offered by a company that makes uDraw, a graphics tablet that teams with a video gaming device like Wii so users can create artwork electronically on TV monitors. Shelly demonstrated for us, recreating the FOX 4 logo.
"It's pretty realistic as to what you want it to look like," says Shelly. "There's different tools, like the chalk and sponge and things so you can give it texture and stuff."
Already skilled doing similar work on her computer with a different tablet system, Shelly picked up uDraw pretty quickly and crafted a drawing for the uDraw Your City art contest for young people. She titled her work, The World the Way You Like It.
"There's like a dead city on the left," says Shelly describing her work,. "And then the art basically makes it come to life and shows that you can make anything out of the world."
The uDraw people liked it a lot, selecting it as the national grand prize winner.
"I was kind of like shocked," says Shelly. Shelly got $10,000 for herself for winning the art contest. And she got another $10,000 to donate to an art program. She decided to give it to the art department at Ray-Pec High School.
"I go, 'What?! That's huge! Are you kidding me!?'" says Hellums. "I've never, in 11 years of teaching, I've never seen anybody that's won that kind of money." "I think it would be cool for them to broaden their graphic design aspect of the art program," says Shelly about one of her hopes for the school using her gift. Which is exactly what the Ray-Pec High art teachers plan to do. And at an all-school assembly recently, they honored Shelly for her achievement and for her generous donation.
"I see somebody with hope and somebody that has vision, a goal in life, where she wants to be and how she wants things to be around her," says Hellums. "And it's beautiful, just like her, just like her personality."
Shelly McClendon is making the world a lot more the way she likes it -- full of beautiful art -- inspired by her religious faith.
Not only are the Ray-Pec art teachers planning to use some of the prize money Shelly donated to upgrade graphic design technology in the school's art department, they also plan to create an art scholarship in Shelly's name.
FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for
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