GLEN ROSE — What started out as fidgeting with watercolors as a kid has led Glen Rose senior Ashlyn Williams down a path that could eventually lead to a career in art and graphic design.

As a child, Williams was always involved with art, but her teachers in junior high and high school continued to pique her interest in it, and now she’s realizing all the field has to offer. 

“I really didn’t think about the business aspect of it because it’s just art, but now that I’ve gotten into it, it’s pretty cool,” she said.

Along with watercolors, Williams has dabbled with acrylic and graphite, but colored pencils are her strength, she said. She’s entered — and won — several art contests in the area and region.

In the last two years, however, she’s added graphic design to her art arsenal, and she's gaining real-world experience.

“She’s gotten better every year, and her last two years, she’s really opened up to some of the digital stuff because it’s new to her,” said Glen Rose art and graphic design teacher Randy Haney, who has been teaching at the school for nearly three decades.

“What sets her apart from most kids is she is the epitome of what teachers want in their classrooms,” he said. “They don’t want kids sitting around waiting to be told what to do. She is a go-getter.”

Haney said Williams contemplated not enrolling in graphic design for her senior year because she didn’t want to continue doing the same things she had done the year prior, but the addition of an art practicum class kept her in it.

This year, she’s in art class from 1-3:35 p.m. each day, but as part of the practicum, she can go out into the community and assist businesses with their needs. 

Haney was approached by Dairy Queen in Glen Rose to produce some window art, and he turned that over to Williams, and because she did a good job with it, she has done additional window art for other DQ restaurants in neighboring cities.

In addition, she has done work with her father’s employer — Mueller, Inc. — in designing and maintaining a local Facebook page, as well as create a how-to video that is on the company’s national website.

Now she’s learning the other side of the business that includes positives and negative criticism, corporate red tape and paychecks.

“She’s been able to go out into the community and get feedback on her designs, make changes and wait for a decision,” Haney said. “She is learning how frustrating it is waiting on adults, but it’s been really good.”

Williams, who was shy and introverted as a freshman, has blossomed in that area as well.

“I have gotten a lot more social out of this. I was super shy and didn’t want to talk to anybody, but going to these different businesses and having to ask questions and learn from them, I have been able to talk without stuttering or getting nervous,” she said.

She wants to attend TCU and study elementary education and eventually become a kindergarten teacher, but she plans to keep working with graphic design on the side, especially while she’s in college, to help with expenses. 

“This is absolutely a top-of-the-mountain experience to watch a kid you have helped along the way achieve something like this,” Haney said.