Skip to Main ContentSearch SiteSearch Site

Budding artist and Promise scholar uses newfound ability to earn South Coast grant

Budding artist and Promise scholar uses newfound ability to earn South Coast grant

For someone who didn’t even start painting until he arrived at the Community College of Rhode Island, budding artist Jonathan Colombo of Cumberland, RI, is making the most of his newly-discovered talent.

The 19-year-old Colombo, a second-year Rhode Island Promise scholar and Fine Arts major with a concentration in Art, was recently named the South Coast Artists' 2024 Youth Grant Award of Merit recipient. The $500 grant award will allow him to purchase a new easel – and other art supplies – in addition to making the necessary computer software upgrades to begin breaking into the Graphic Design and Illustration fields.

Established in 2014, SCA’s grants are awarded annually to motivated high school and college students under the age of 21 to explore their artistic potential beyond the everyday classroom setting.

As Colombo continues to evolve as an artist, he plans to return to CCRI for a third year beginning in the Fall 2024 semester, mostly to build a stronger portfolio and increase his chances of transferring to either Rhode Island College or the Rhode Island School of Design.

The journey into art has been a slow build for Colombo, a Brockton, MA, native who moved to Rhode Island with his family a decade ago. He remembers taking an interest in drawing at the age of 10, but never considered art a realistic career; his father pushed him down a safer path toward Engineering, but by the time Colombo reached his senior year at Cumberland High School, he decided to pursue a career that would make him happy.

“You might as well shoot for what you want,” Colombo said.

With the desire to break into the digital art industry, specifically as a character designer, Colombo knew he needed to work on his understanding of colors and color theory, the latter of which is best described as a “toolbox for artists, designers, and creators to help them choose the right colors for their projects.” 

A gifted drawer who worked primarily with pencils and charcoal, Colombo began honing his painting and color skills under the guidance of Associate Art Professor Tyler Vouros, starting with Vouros’ Painting I course. 

“I used to hate working with color,” Colombo admits. “I was so used to pencil and charcoal. Now I’ve introduced myself to this whole spectrum of mediums, and the the more I get used to it the better I get.”

Colombo found his niche quickly and developed a passion for painting landscapes with thick, colorful clouds, a style he prefers because “there are no real rules” when designing clouds. He particular enjoys the initial struggle of learning a new medium, making adjustments to his technique, and “ultimately figuring it out in the end.”

A fast learner, Colombo adjusted so well over his first two semesters at CCRI that Vouros suggested he apply for the South Coast Artists’ grant this past fall and even penned Colombo’s recommendation letter. Colombo refers to Vouros as an “amazing” teacher and the reason he’s doubling down on Art at CCRI.

“Jonathan is a force of nature. He continuously explores ideas of art-making and professional enrichment outside of the academic environment,” Vouros said. I can’t imagine a more suited individual who is so passionate about everything he does. His exceptional technical abilities are perfectly matched by his creativity and relentless work ethic. He’s always sketching, thinking, and growing by building his visual presence of mind. He’s never afraid to try anything new.”

As he begins to transition into digital art and focus on the skills necessary to build a career in that industry, Colombo remains open to the idea of trying anything that allows to express his creativity and wide range of talents.

“I just get into a zone when I do any kind of art,” he said. “People keep asking which medium I favor, but the truth is they all have their benefits. It’s all unique in a way. That’s what I love about it. There are different challenges and struggles with each medium. I just want to do it all. 

“Most people are telling me I should do illustration for my art style and I’m seeing it, too, but I still have a year to decide which major I want to choose.”

Share on Social Media