AVON PARK - All it takes is one short look and it goes from a physical image or one conjured up in his mind and within a few hours, becomes an detailed, vibrant work of art sometimes covering unconventional surfaces.
In the process, Jeffrey Lozier creates images and scenes usually accomplished by artists much older than his 11-year-old mind and hands intricately manifests.
Because of seemingly limitless artistic skills and desire to share his talents, Jeffrey will be the youngest featured artist exhibiting works in the 35 years of the Springtime on the Mall festival. He will be among a total of about 50 artists and arts and crafts vendors during the festival, held today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Main Street Mall.
At his Avon Park home Wednesday, Jeffrey sat on a couch with his parents, Hank and Sheila, and among some of his favorite works. Among them, Jeffrey had meticulously created ocean, forest, plains and mountain scenes on not only normal canvasses, but on 10-inch powered rotary saw blades and discarded, broken pieces of pinewood used at the tae kwon do martial arts classes he attends.
Jeffrey, a video game aficionado who also looks to computer animation for inspiration, said he got started in art around 6 or 7 years old by making his own versions of his favorite video game characters, such as Pokemon and Tekken. He said he remembered creating little monsters and would just draw his takes freehand, looking at the video screen and then started painting his pencil and pen drawings to "make them come to life."
Over the past two years, Jeffrey, a sixth-grader at Avon Park Middle School, began adding more detail and color to his paintings, mostly acrylics. Because he started becoming more prolific and productive, he and his parents began looking for cheaper surfaces to paint, rather than doling out cash for new canvasses. The result was painting on saw blades and in a nod to environmental consciousness, began painting on discarded wood broken in martial arts classes.
Sheila Lozier, who said neither she nor her husband and artistically inclined, said when she saw how strong her son's desire to create art was, in March 2012, she enrolled him in private art lessons with Avon Park art instructor Jeannie Elder who teaches from her home studio.
"He does it (art) and does it and does it; if it's not perfect, he just starts over," said Lozier, who plans to spend Saturday with Jeffrey at the festival.
Holding a saw blade adorned with a water scene and birds, Jeffrey said Elder suggested to him to try painting power saw blades. He said he coats the blade with primer, makes a sketch and begins painting.
"It's hard because I have to incorporate the (blade) hole into the painting; it's hard to maneuver around it and make it fit in the painting," he said.
Jeffrey said to him the most challenging works are those of houses due to all the details and perspectives required for objects - like bricks and shingles - and he's not keen on drawing or painting people although he enjoys sketching animals.
It's Jeffrey's ability to use what he has and innovate is what makes him an outstanding student, said Elder. She said he has an exceptional eye for his subjects and penchant for storing images in his mind.
"He's wonderful to teach because he likes to challenge you and do his own thing, which is very good," said Elder, who averages about five students and has taught for 10 years. "He's exceptional. He can just sit down and take a piece of paper and just draw anything out of his mind and add color and shadowing. He can do it all from creating beautiful mountains to scary video game monsters."
Jeffrey is also fond of sharing his talents, in addition to selling them, often donating works to non-profit causes and events, such as the Highlands Art League and silent auctions for the Rotary Club of Gainesville. Currently, his works sell from $25 for saw blades to $300 for large acrylic works, like the "Island Home" painting he did for Patty Palmer of Avon Park.
Palmer said Hank Lozier, who did brickwork for her home, told he about Jeffrey's paintings and she had Jeffrey do a large painting of her beach home on Palm Island near Boca Grande. She said she was floored by what she got.
"He took a picture from me of my house. I couldn't believe it was so good; I cried," she said. "He's a little protege, he's a remarkably gifted young person and he's got a great future. I'm hoping the money he gets goes to a college fund."
Besides art, Jeffrey said he enjoys tae kwon do three times a week and playing trumpet in the school band. But he said it's art that he hopes will carry him into adulthood and a career. He hopes someday to attend Full Sail University in Winter Park or one of The Art Institutes after high school before launching into a video game artist career.
For now, Jeffrey said he's happy creating for himself, but mostly, for the joy of others.
"I love to make art. I want someday to actually make them come to life," he said,
"I want him to do what makes him happy. It would be good for him to do what he enjoys and make money with it at the same time. Most people don't get to do that," replied Sheila.