OTTUMWA — Mikayla Lanman was shocked when she learned that she had been awarded the annual Ottumwa Art Club award at the Indian Hills Community College Student Art Show.
The freshman graphic design student was so excited about being included in the show that she entered 14 pieces, ranging from pencil and watercolor to ceramics.
"I was in shock ... I had no idea it even existed," she said. "I had never really won anything like that before in my life, so it was really exciting that they liked my art enough to want to do that."
Her versatility made her the perfect choice for this year's $300 award, her instructors say.
"She was the obvious choice partly because she is so talented in so many different areas," instructor and art gallery director Mark McWhorter said. "She excels at every art class she's taken."
A native of Keosauqua, Lanman was homeschooled, so she was a little nervous about leaving home to attend college. But being just 45 minutes away and in amazing classes has made it a great fit for her. She's able to take graphic design courses while immersing herself in IHCC's variety of art classes.
"I want to be able to create art, but I want to be able to make a living off of it, too," she explained. "I love it here so much. I've taken as many art classes as I can, and I'm going to continue to take as many as I can. It's been really nice."
Art has always been a part of Lanman's life.
"A lot of my inspiration came from my mom. When I was really little, she used to draw horses for me, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever, that she'd take this blank piece of paper and create something for it," she said. "So literally since I was 3 or 4, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I love the feeling of taking something and creating something from nothing."
While Lanman says the future is a little up in the air, the art club's recognition has given her the motivation to follow through and begin commissioning art this summer. She's going to start a Facebook page and see what opportunities are out there for an artist.
"She could go about anywhere she wants," McWhorter said.
— Follow reporter Laura Carrell on Twitter @CourierLauraC