By Pamela Dozois

Seventeen-year-old Miranda Johnson, a junior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, loves art and is endowed with a generous spirit. 

She wanted to do something for the community during the current challenge of distance learning. At first, she thought about helping out with food; then her mother suggested she do something special for youngsters instead. Due to her love of art, Miranda came up with the idea of distributing art supplies to kids who didn’t have access to such items. 

They thought about what to name the project and since Miranda is an avid artist with a big heart, her mother, Angie Johnson, suggested she call her project “Art from the Heart.”  

After some discussion, it was decided to organize a fundraiser to accomplish the goal. Miranda and her sister, Caileigh, got permission from their mother to canvass their neighborhood for donations, explaining what she wanted to do with the money she was collecting.   

“I wanted to raise funds to purchase art supplies for kids who had less access to art materials due to school closures. The first thing we did was to knock on doors in my neighborhood, asking for donations. Everyone was very generous. We raised over $1,000 from my neighborhood alone,” Miranda explained.  “Then we started a Go-Fund-Me page and let people, friends, and family know we had it set up and we raised over $1,500 more, all of which we used to buy art supplies. Greg and Teresa King, owners of Valley Fresh Market generously donated colored pencils and pens to sketch with.”

Using her artistic skills, Miranda created a logo for her project. Johnson Family Dental, her father Steve’s company, donated the cost of printing her logo on white-handled bags. She was then ready to fill them with a variety of art supplies.

“I created a logo ‘Art from the Heart’ and my dad helped me to get the logo printed on white bags, which I used to distribute the drawing and painting materials,” she said. “I was able to donate 160 bags filled with sketching materials such as a sketch pad, a set of 36 triangle markers, 12 colored pencils, 12 pencils, a manual pencil sharpener, and a tie-dyed mask in one bag and painting supplies in the other, which included 2 canvases, a 12-color set of acrylic paints, 6 assorted brushes and a tie-dyed mask.

“We gave 80 bags away at Solvang School when people came for the food program. It was well received along with a few tears. We then gave the other 80 bags to People Helping People and to the High School Art Department. Everyone was excited and grateful for the supplies.”

Miranda really enjoyed her moments with the recipients.

“It was really fun seeing people’s genuine reactions because they don’t normally get this kind of stuff. They were very appreciative,” she said. “I would love to do it again. People said they would even be happy to help out in the future. I’m hoping to do another series for the kids in Lompoc.” 

Miranda appreciates the effect that art has on her life and well-being.

“Art helps me express my emotions and calms me down, especially after a long day at school,” Miranda explained. “Drawing in class helps me to focus and center myself. Luckily my teachers understand how sketching helps me to concentrate on what is being taught.”

“I love to do digital sketching because I want to go into animation and create storyboards and eventually make my own TV series,” she added.

Miranda is currently enrolled in Advanced Placement 3D Studio Art.

“This was a fun project and I hope it inspired other kids to love art as much as I do,” said Miranda.

For more information, email angiemirandarory@gmail .com.