Ruby Valadez holding “The Reach”

A local student has been awarded a national scholarship for her artwork, including a painting symbolizing that everyone is reaching for something in their lives.

Ruby Valadez, 17, a junior at Heritage Academy, was recognized with a $2,000 Visual Arts Scholarship from the National Society of High School Scholars. She was one of five winners selected from more than 200 applicants.

The monochromatic painting in India ink, titled “The Reach,” depicts a hand.

“The Reach,” painting in India ink by Ruby Valadez.

“I started with the most diluted ink and continued with continuously darker layers,” Ruby explained of her artistic process. “This is one of my favorite artworks, since I enjoy the value of its depth, and how it represents that everyone is reaching for something within their life.”

From a young age, growing up in El Paso, Texas, Ruby enjoyed chalk art and painting with her family and friends. These memories hold a special place in her heart as she moved to Maricopa in 2016 and continues to enjoy creating art.

Ruby’s submission to the contest also included a photograph, titled “Unaware.” Taken with her iPhone, the photo is a macro shot of a plant that capture nature at work.

“My first thought when taking this shot was to get the detail of the plant, then I noticed something that caught my eye,” Ruby said. “I saw the spider and its prey, and even though it is not the main subject, it points out how so many things happen around us that we are not aware of. I really love this photo, because of its color, story, and meaning behind it.”

“Unaware,” photograph by Ruby Valadez

She also creates art in other mediums and loves the colors that can be achieved in her favorite medium, acrylic paint. Recently, she has been using acrylic markers, too.

One of the most challenging subjects to paint or draw are people, according to Ruby.

“Humans proportions need to be right,” she said.

Currently, Ruby is operating a small business, creating beaded phone charms and bracelets for a school project. She hopes to continue during summer break.

While Ruby wants to continue creating the art she loves so much, she said it will most likely become a hobby as she wants to pursue a career in education as an elementary school teacher.

The NSHSS Visual Arts Scholarship recognizes excellence in the visual arts, including original photography, digital photography, painting, drawing, mixed media or digital art.