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Colton High School artist James Parker created something unique for the cafeteria.

CINDY FAMA - James Parker poses with his street-style, Colton-centric art piece in the school cafeteria.

"Every Colton High School art IV student is required to do a mural in or around the school," said district art teacher Craig Cervantes. "And I am really excited about the mural by James Parker. I have had him in class since eighth grade and he is an 'artist', but humble about his talents. The piece he did in the cafeteria is taking a city-style street art and bringing it inside in a rural setting as a creative process that represents the rural atmosphere with messages inserted within the art."

Parker said when he was in middle school he would randomly draw letters, what he called "graffiti-type stuff."

"I pretty much taught myself through trial and error how to fit it all together," Parker said.

He said he first got interested in street art when driving through Portland to Trail Blazer games and saw the art in the parking garages.

"I really liked the style," Parker said. "You see one thing, but as you look you see more that the artist is sharing."

He also mentioned the color combinations the street artists used caught his eye, and he did research on the colors before starting his mural.

"I went online and studied what street artists were doing," Parker said. "I wanted to do something different, something with the street art where I found creativity but something that related to Colton. I am a country kid, a Viking, with my roots in western Oregon. I wanted something that represents me and Colton."

After looking at different types of street art, Parker settled on one that used his penchant of creating letters and his passion for street art. He designed a mural using the letters in Colton and inside each letter is further lettering and art to define a part of Colton life.

Inside the C is PNW, inside O is an Oregon theme, L is home, T is Portland in Trail Blazers' colors, O is 503 with a rain theme and N is timber—a motif for the way of life in Colton.

"His tinting and shading are amazing," Cervantes said. "He used acrylics and mixed. We have studied color theory in class and he kept studying and mixed up the colors he used."

Parker said he used mostly basic colors and blended or tinted his own shades and hues, but did use some neon paints.

Cervantes said Parker started his mural in the fall and since the art class corresponds with first lunch, the freshman and sophomore classes got to watch Parker design, sketch, paint, revise and finish his mural. He said the kids would walk up and watch the process.

"It is mostly free-hand," Parker said. "I did some measuring and drew lines until I found what I wanted, the flow I liked."

Parker, a senior, who played point guard for the CHS varsity basketball team and was both running back and linebacker for the football squad, has been going to open gym at Clackamas Community College where he hopes to study graphic art and play basketball if all works out.

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