Ohio teen drawing attention with chalk sidewalk spectacle

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NEW PARIS, Ohio (WDTN) — Diving on one of the main drags in New Paris, you might catch a glimpse of a young artist at work.

“I do draw, but that was mainly all I did. I never really painted. All I did was draw, but I thought it would be nice to try something new,” says artist Leah Jonas.

The 15-year-old has turned the sidewalk in front of her East Cherry Street home into her canvas.

“I have made chalk drawings on the sidewalk for the kids to basically take a break from all what’s going on,” describes Leah.

It started with a chalk rending of Stitch and grew.

“People were driving by, and she’d get some people commenting saying ‘oh that looks great’,” describes her mom, Shannon Sowder.

She’s been free-handing Disney and other cartoon characters since April. Since then she’s gained a lot of attention and even taken some special requests.

“She had a cop stop by, and he was looking at them and he put in his requests for her. He stopped by a couple times now and has talked to her,” says her mom. “He said he really liked that character and so he asked her to do Toothless.”

Children have also been stopping by to get their pictures taken.

“She’s had a lot of donations too. People just randomly stop by and bring her chalk. She’s had some people stop and give her some money to get some more chalk. She’s had people offer to bring her snacks and drinks while she’s out here,” smiles Shannon.

Her work has even earned her some job offers.

“Some people want me to do paintings for their walls,” beams Leah.

While she likes the new-found recognition, she chalks it up to a love of art and spreading a little happiness up and down the street.

“It used to be just my drawings for myself because it was something I liked to calm down, to just be able to do something for me; but now it feels really great to also do it for someone else,” says Leah.

She’s received such positive feedback on her drawings, she’s looking at possibly making them a more permanent fixture on the sidewalks; however first she would have to go to the village council.

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