Young artists learn under accomplished Odessa native Fuentes at Ellen Noel residency

Under glistening lights that empowered every color, and propped up on easels that showcased each choice made on canvas, and surrounded by an air of creativity on the exhibition floor, Jordan Granado’s own work shined in a way even he couldn’t describe.

“It just looks awesome,” the 16-year-old said, looking from across the floor in the Ellen Noel Art Museum on Friday night.

“I can’t describe it any other way. It’s just awesome.”

Granado and nine other Midland-Odessa area teenagers advanced through the Teen Artist Residency Program at Ellen Noel last week, with their lessons culminating Friday in final pieces that were displayed as part of the reception for the opening of the museum’s new Celebrate Texas exhibit.

“It’s like we’re actually part of the exhibit, which I think is really cool,” said Granado, who will be a junior at Midland Lee in the fall.

The students aged 13-17 studied for five days in the sixth iteration of the summer program, learning under Odessa native and Texas Tech School of Art professor Tina Fuentes.

Fuentes pushed the students through lessons about mixing paints, working without colors, using pallet knives, and more, leading to Friday’s end results like Granado’s piece depicting a windmill, and works featuring depictions that varied from a profile of a woman to a starry galaxy.

Museum educator Annie Stanley said that the organization usually tries to bring in professional artists from out of the region for the summer program, but that since this camp went right along with the opening of the new Celebrate Texas exhibit, Fuentes made for a perfect choice.

Fuentes, an accomplished artist, grew up in Odessa, graduating from Ector High School and attending Odessa College before North Texas.

“Tina Fuentes is a great artist,” Stanley said. “She had an exhibit here several years ago. She did a phenomenal job.

“I was really impressed,” she added. “They learned a lot in a week.”

Fuentes, too, said she was impressed by her student’s work at the end of the week.

“For them to do that within five days, that’s intense,” Fuentes said. “To get the results that I got from them, I was really pleased overall. They came with different degrees of knowledge, but they all moved forward and they tried to tackle it the best that they could.”

In the final pieces on display Friday night, Fuentes said she saw both bits of her lessons reflected in the results, as well as individuality and choice-making from each of the 10 local students.

“I wanted to show them some techniques — techniques that they’re going to be able to carry with them and they can continue to further develop,” Fuentes said. On each of the 10 final canvases Friday night, she saw some of those techniques. Some showed pallet knife strokes as opposed to brush strokes, and some showed different choices made in color.

“I think what happened was that they start to get to their own expressions that they felt most comfortable with,” Fuentes agreed. “It could go either-or, and so they each chose.”

With Fuentes’ teachings empowering their choices, 10 area teenagers are now moving forward in art with their decision-making.

“If it was anybody else teaching us, I don’t think they would’ve turned out this good,” Granado said. “I just like the results so much.

“Everybody seems to be real proud of their work,” he added. “I’m honestly real proud of everybody’s work. It looks so good.”

After the conclusion of the teen residency program, the museum is set to host several summer camps for junior artists aged 6-12. Spots are still open for campers later in June and in July.

Those interested learn more at, or call Stanley by dialing the museum at 432-550-9696 and using extension 213.

The Celebrate Texas exhibit opened Friday at the museum and is open through to Sept. 2.