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Pretty in Pink By lilli Trompke

There might not be many high school students who would be willing to bind themselves to a program for the entirety of their summer break, but that’s exactly how Ojai Valley School sophomore Jocelyn Gonzales spent her summer days.

Jocelyn was one of four Ojai-area students selected to take part in the City of Ojai Arts Commission’s Summer Mentor Program. Meeting twice a week over a span of 50 hours, Jocelyn worked with renowned pastel artist Jannene Behl to create nine beautiful paintings -- landscapes and seascapes and a pastel of Frost Hall at the Lower Campus -- that now adorn the walls at Ojai City Hall.

Late last month, Jocelyn and the other student artists in the program were honored for their work at a public reception at Ojai City Hall. Each student discussed his or her work and was then provided with a $500 scholarship for participating in the mentorship program.

For the past three years, Jocelyn has mainly painted in acrylics, so the medium of pastel was entirely new to her when she started the program. Learning from an expert, she started mastering different techniques such as underpainting, layering, and working on different types of papers.

“She wanted me to try a little bit of everything, so that I would have a broader horizon,” Jocelyn said. "I think my favorite one was probably a pink wave. My teacher titled it 'In the Pink.' ”

The painting that Behl found to be Jocelyn’s best work was one that Behl herself had actually done before.

“It was so good that I saw the way she did it [and] I went back to the piece that I had painted and I kind of redid parts of it.” Behl said, with a chuckle under her breath. “It's not [Jocelyn’s] favorite piece, but as her mentor, it was leaps and bounds” her best work.

By intensively working with a completely new medium, Jocelyn was able to further develop her personal artistic style.

“I try playing around with sort of impressionistic [pieces] and I’m not really sure if that’s me or not, but it’s fun,” she said. “It’s not as easy as it looks.”

"Every artist has their individual style. [...] Even when you just try to replicate a picture you’re still taking that picture and putting a part of you into it." - Jocelyn

While multiple hours a week over an entire summer is a lot of time to dedicate to a program, there can never be enough time to spend practicing and perfecting a new craft. For Jocelyn’s part, those long hours were rewarded with personal improvement, beautiful paintings, and the pastel chalk underneath her fingernails.

But, throughout their time spent together, Jocelyn and Behl developed a bond that will last beyond the program.

“I wish I would have had a lot more time with her,” Behl said, “I've told her that she's welcome to come to the studio anytime.”

Jocelyn's version of Behl's painting

The paintings are currently exhibited in the Ojai City Hall. On September 21st, Jocelyn and other student participants will be honored at a public reception, for their work and improvements they have made over the summer.

If you want to check out or even buy some of Jocelyn's artwork, click here for her Redbubble site.

Created By
Lilli Trompke
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