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Youth shares his talents
Teen paints daycare over break
the owl
One of Landis Johnson's characters is a fanciful owl. - photo by Photo by Frenchi Jones
Colorful illustrations of animal-like characters now greet the children coming into Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s the Heavenly Place Learning Center.
The two-dimensional figures, with their cheery faces and shiny balloons, seem to bounce off the walls, as if to say, “welcome” or “hello.”
Their freehanded designer is only 15.
“His name is Landis,” Shrye Jackson said, “and we came in contact with him after he drew a banner for the Mt. Zion Kingdom Kids Youth Church. For a young person to have designed [the banner], it was just awesome.”
Jackson is the director of DoRight Ministries Community Development. Her non-profit organization owns and operates the learning facility.
When the center’s director, Gwendolyn Watkins, wanted to make the daycare’s appearance more inviting and “child-friendly,” Jackson said she immediately asked the teen.
“He said he would do it while he was on spring break,” Jackson said, “and he has been here every morning at 8.”
Landis Johnson — “paint master” to the center’s staff — is an honor student at the Bradwell Institute. He is carrying a 3.8 gpa and is involved in various community activities.
Jackson said he volunteered to paint the center’s outer walls as community-service hours toward graduation.
As tears filled her eyes, she said, Johnson’s artistic gift has been a blessing of enormous proportion to the center and church.
“The work he has done,” she said, “we could not imagine the cost. The parents and the children are just so excited about the changes …”
“We’re just overwhelmed because normally kids his age would rather be spending their spring break hanging out with their friends or sleeping, but to know that he knowingly and willingly wanted to just come ….,” she said taking a moment to wipe tears from her face. “It’s just out of the ordinary.”
Landis' mother Barbara Johnson, who raised Landis and his sibling by herself with the help of their grandparents, said Landis and his brother, Siddel, have always been different.
Both of them could draw, she said — a gift she said God also gave her. More importantly, she said, they were both brought up to believe in themselves and to always put their trust in the Lord.
“I have always tried to tell them, using scripture, that through Christ they can do all things…”
Landis attributes his gift to support from his single mother and God.
“She was the one who told me I could do this,” he said as he painted a balloon. “I was kind of scared and skeptical, but she was the one who really encouraged me, and, as you can see, it really turned out good and I am glad she pushed me to do it.”
As Landis worked from a ladder, paint from the 20 buckets he’s used splattered on his jeans and T-shirt, a spectator stops to admire his work.
“Wow,” Michael Griffin said. “It looks amazing. Look at how professional that is.”
Landis hopes the “professional” look of his work will afford him opportunities.
So far, he has four commissions lined up. In the future, he plans to start his own business, with his mom as his manager, and attend Savannah College of Art and Design.
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