Student Spotlight: Charlie Valk

Charlie Valk, Category II Art Winner

In this 2020 interview with River of Words, Charlie says making art can be both stressful and relaxing, and how she likes creating art that relates to nature because of all the different colors, and textures. From Decatur, Georgia, Charlie considers herself a Watershed Explorer after going to the beach and the Chattahoochee River with her class. 


Meet Charlie:

Q: What is your current age? 

I’m nine years old.


Q: Tell me a little bit about how you got into art.

Wellwhen I was little I would always do like messy art. But when I actually started going to school it was actually a subject so I got really excited about it and I started practicing.


Q: What’s your process like? How do you go about creating a piece of art? 

Normally I go sketch a thing in pencil and then I do it in paint or marker.


Q: What do you enjoy the most about making art? 

Sometimes it can be very stressful but other times it can really calm and relaxing and just so fun.


Q: Do you like creating art that relates to nature?

Yes, because all the different colors and all the different designs and textures that you can do.


Q: You are the winner of the Category II Art Prize for your piece, “Waves, Water, Wind.” What inspired you? What were you thinking about when you created it?

This year my central subject has been water. And when I created this art we just recently learned about rain and so I wanted to do something that relates to rain. 


A grey-blue billowing sky sprinkled with speckles of watercolors above a wave of grey-blue sea. A single bolt of white lightning crashes down from the clouds.


Q: What inspired you to have the piece be in shades of same color?

I go to the beach a lot and so I know a storm. Its always like a grey or a blue and so I just wanted to do that kind of theme.


Q: How did you find out about River of Words? 

My art teacher told our class.


Q: What role has River of Words played in your life? 

It’s a really exciting one because it’s really cool to win a big prize and its cool to see other people in the country’s art.


Q: Here at River of Words we talk a lot about Watersheds: about getting to know them, about observing them and conserving them. What does the word watershed mean to you? 

It means a body of water that drains into an ocean, something that connects to it.


Q: We call someone who explores their watershed and the environment they live in a Watershed Explorer. Do you consider yourself a watershed explorer? Why?

Yes, because this year we’ve been learning a lot about water and we’ve been on a lot of field trips to go to the Chattahoochee or we went to the beach and we observed, we saw some animals and learned a lot about them.


Q: What is some advice you’d give another young person about creating art? 

Do it because if you try it maybe you’ll love it and then that will one day be your career or maybe you’ll just want to try it but not like it too much but then you still like doing it just for fun.


Q: What is your advice for a young person who wants to be more involved in taking care of their environment or getting to know their local watershed? 

You can go to a creek and observe it, see what’s in it. You can see what features are in it and you can just pick up trash near by. If you're at a beach, you can pick up trash there or just pick up trash near any water.