By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald
Six young artists from Union Grove Middle School walked away from a regional art contest with nine gold medals, including a state championship.
Entering the Junior Visual Arts Scholastic Regional Event at Goldthwaite, a first for a Killeen ISD school, Angelique Hall's students earned nine gold medals out of 12 pieces entered.
Paige Leonard was the big winner, scoring a state championship with an acrylic painting of a nighttime scene with a mysterious purple sky and a huge moon silhouetting a small owl perched in a tree.
Nicole Zimmerman, Courtnee Biddle and Madison Stebbins won two gold medals apiece and Victoria Ward, Shelby Martin and Leonard all won a gold medal each.
Leonard said she was going for "something unique that you don't normally see" with her acrylic painting that caught the art education judges' eyes. "I used things that are personal to me."
A fan of Kansas State University, she incorporated that school's purple and black colors and she said her favorite animal is an owl.
The dominant part of the painting is a huge tree with boughs that form a heart.
She called the work Heartfelt Silhouette.
"I was surprised. I don't usually win contests," she said.
Each student submitted a written purpose for their art pieces and interviewed with professional artists during the juried event.
Leonard's state medal piece will be on display on the TAEA website as one of the top pieces of student artwork in the state.
Hall said her students worked hard to create their pieces and Leonard was in the art room before and after school for months.
"Paige's piece is beautiful," Hall said. "She stayed after school and came early. She finally let me have it to mat it for the contest."
The other gold medals included a painting by Ward, an art book by Martin, a painting and pen and ink piece by Biddle, a pen and ink and woven work by Zimmerman and a mixed media and woven piece by Stebbins.