Youth Art Contest

Youth Art Contest update

Our Youth Art Contest has inspired submissions from hundreds of California youth enjoying, supporting and discovering their state parks. We are excited to share with you just a small selection of the talent and creativity shared with us in 2015 and 2016.

California State Parks Foundation will not be hosting a youth art contest for 2017. Should that change or should we resume the contest in 2018, you can updates on this page or by subscribing to our monthly E-News. And, please feel free to show us your youth art even without a contest by sharing with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!

2016 Youth Art Contest Winners

View our 2015 Youth Art Contest winners here.

We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2nd annual Youth Art Contest! This year’s competition was exceptionally competitive, with nearly 400 students ages 4 to 18 entering artwork inspired by the theme “Discovering State Parks.”  Nearly three times as many youth participated this year than last year!

Youth artists used a variety of artistic mediums — from drawings using pencil, crayons, chalk and ink to photography, and paintings using water color, acrylic and oil.
The “Discovering State Parks” theme was powerfully reflected in the work of this year’s youth artists. Through each piece, they showed the large diversity of state parks in California, as well as the diversity of experiences that individuals can have in them. 

Our first, second, and third place and Judges Award winners in each age category will receive prizes from CSPF’s online store, and all of our participants will receive certificates of achievement in recognition of their talents. We are currently in the process of scheduling artwork displays in venues throughout California.

For more information, please contact

Ages 4 to 6

1st Place: Maggie Liu, Milpitas, "Wonderland"

"I love California state parks. It is like a wonderland to play inside of the parks."

2nd Place: Kathy Shen, San Jose, "Discovering Each Other"

"One day I played in a park. A squirrel was so close to me. We looked at each other. I wanted to discover him and I believe he wanted to know me too."

3rd Place: Andy Liu, San Jose, "I Found Starfish on the State Beach Greeting Me"

"Our family went to state parks many times. Last time, we went to Carpinteria State Beach, we found shells, starfishes on the shore. I like them because they are very pretty and interesting. That is what inspired me to draw the piece of artwork."

Ages 7 to 9

1st Place: Emma Y. Li, Palo Alto, "A Squirrel's View of a State Park"

"I have been to many state parks with parents.  The parks are beautiful.  I've always wondered what the park would look like from high up in a tall tree.  In the drawing, I imagined to be a squirrel myself sitting on a branch watching other squirrels playing and visitors walking on a boardwalk."

2nd Place: Jessica Wang, Cupertino, "Heart of California"

"California state parks are beautiful in all seasons.  They are the soul of California so we love them with all our hearts."

3rd Place: HaoRan Zeng, Arcadia, "Beauty of Nature"

"I want the state park to be safe, clean, and beautiful.  I want to draw this beautiful park."

Ages 10 to 12

1st Place: Chinyoung Shao, Palo Alto, "Monarch Butterflies"

"We went to Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz and saw these amazing creatures. Monarch butterflies migrate 3,000 miles in America each year and always stop in Santa Cruz, California each winter."

2nd Place: Anika Huang, Santa Clara, "Spirits in the Constellations"

"Nature has always been the spark of my life.  Whenever I go camping in a state park, I feel the closest to nature.  My favorite part of camping is the night sky.  I played connect the dots with the constellations and watched the moon get bigger and smaller.  Occasionally, I saw the Milky Way. There has always been something pulling me toward them, something deep in my heart."

3rd Place: Ellen Zhang, San Jose, "The Whole View"

"One can only see the whole view through different pairs of "eyes" (cameras)."

Ages 13 to 15

1st Place: Annette Lee, Torrance, "A Timeless Beauty"

"I found that California state parks are beautiful any time of the day, this drawing two halves of the park — day and night. I also drew a section where there was a park inside a "snow" globe, representing preservation of a natural beauty, and the unification of day and night."

2nd Place: Kelly Lu, San Jose, "Preserving Beauty"

"Through the felt and the green footsteps, I want to show the history of the preservation of this land for future generations to see."

3rd Place: Dana Lau, Atherton, "Mutual Respect"

"I thought back to my memories of biking through woods, past streams and up mountains in state parks.  But, in those parks people, other visitors, left trash and other refuse behind them wherever they went.  I wanted to combine these two ideas and so the bike that recurs in the piece represents human presence.  It keeps the idea of discovery but rules out the waste humans leave behind."

Ages 16 to 18

1st Place: Yun Yao (Joyce), West Hills, "Impression"

"I was amazed by the nature and the beauty of the California State Park when I went to Topanga Canyon State Park and Big Sur.  I saw a lot of wildlife and these animals inspired me to create this artwork.  My impression of the State Parks inspired me to share by experience through this piece of artwork."

2nd Place: Rachel Goodale, Chatsworth, "Emerald Bay"

"A beautiful evening at Tahoe with my family."

3rd Place (Tie): Holly Edelman, Woodland Hills, "Shoes to Fill"

"My love of adventure, the need for newer generations to appreciate the outdoors, and all that the nature of California has to offer."

3rd Place (Tie): Maithy Nguyen, Sacramento, "Henry Cowell Redwoods"

"This image had amazing detail from the trees to the cabin in the woods. I've always enjoyed being involved with nature. This image shows the relationship between man and nature. The subject matter contrasts with the tall trees in the background."

Judges' Awards

Each of our judges awarded special recognition to one artist in each age category.

Ages 4 to 6

Maya Secor, Hercules, "Nature Exploring"

"I am holding the Skink and lizard my sister and I found on our walk in Big Basin with our mama and brother. They were under logs. I also drew an alligator lizard and banana slug that we watched."

Shannon Zhang, Santa Clara, "Hike Waterfall, Rain"

"Hiked with the family and I saw a beautiful waterfall in the state park.  That is amazing.  I also saw some fish in the water and I would like to fish there.  This picture describes what I saw and thought in the state park."

Ages 7 to 9

William Li, Chino Hills, "The Twilight"

"I was inspired to create this artwork because I live at Chino Hills and my family and I hiked at the Chino Hills State Park and I saw the twilight when I was on the mountain top hiking."

Evan Liu, Sunnyvale, "Fall Is Coming to State Parks"

"One of my favorite things is to go to state parks. They have all kinds of trees, animals, and sea life. My most recent visit to a state park, I found tree leaves turning yellow and orange, which made me suddenly notice that fall is coming to the park. I really enjoyed the scenery."

Alice Rogers, Cupertino, "Tiding the Park"

"I love to go for hikes in my nearby parks. You should treat the park like your house and keep it clean and beautiful, for the flowers and the animals. My picture uses the state of California flowers."

Ages 10 to 12

Beren Gao, Cupertino, "Drawing Back the Curtain on our Park"

"If you discover a state park for the first time you are essentially drawing back the curtain that prevented you from seeing it.  The three state parks depicted are relatively well known and if you see something of interest. You will often point at it. Put these together with the beauty of state parks."

Melissa Liu, Fremont, "A Redwood Forest"

"Recently I've visited many state parks all over California and have been very impressed by them.  And so, with the support of my family.  I have decided to create the artwork of the massive redwoods California is famous for."

Jessica Qui, San Jose, "Kissing Nature"

"I went to a science camp in a state park and kissed a banana slug there.  It felt so cool to be close to nature."

Linda Zhu, San Jose, "In the Park"

"What inspired me to do this artwork is all of the nice things I have seen little kids do in the parks. They are planting trees and taking care of animals. So in this picture, this little girl is planting a tree in the park. And the idea of a hand sketching this scene out is that it represents what I saw from my point of view."

Ages 13 to 15

Cassie Halaszynski, Walnut Creek, "Diablo at Twilight"

"Living by Mt. Diablo you can always see it in the sky, and it looks wonderful at twilight. Also, because we live so close, I have been in those hills a lot and especially when it is twilight. I was recreating some of my favorite moments."

Gabriela Marquez, Cathedral City, "Palm Springs Aerial Tramway"

"What inspired me to create this work were the rocks that formed the canyon and the tram that transports tourists up the mountain.  I really like the way the tram appears in the picture."

Manasvi Suggula, Cupertino, "Nature's Surprise"
"I was inspired by the different expressions one makes when discovering something. I took an approach in a more literal sense. Children often express their emotions, so i decided to draw a child. The child is essentially surprised after exploring and discovering something new."

Luciano Tanedo, Santa Rosa, "Nature Tripping"

"To explore the beauty of nature and discover the biodiversity that lives within."

Maylynn Tsai, Fremont, "View"

"This artwork was inspired by the redwood forest in California, which I found was beautiful."

Allison Wu, San Jose, "The State Parks Are in Our Hearts"

"I thought about how our state parks are dear to our hearts and it inspired me to merge the two into one part of the heart that transformed into objects one might see at a park, like a river or trees."

Ages 16-18

Kacie Harman, Nevada City, "Tahoe"

"The rock formations and pristine waters of Lake Tahoe have always been inspiring to me, and painting them is so enjoyable."

Marina Praef, Orange, "San O' Dreaming"

"The first time I ever went to San Onofre State Beach, I knew I found my second home. I fell in love with the ocean and the old fashioned way of life that makes you feel like you go back in time. Ever since then it’s always on my mind."

Jasmin Robledo, Sacramento, "Santa Monica"
"This artwork inspired me because it is a beach and a park which reminded me of Santa Cruz. It has a nature but the ocean and the park are what made me do this art."

Malinda Voong, Sacramento, "Ethereality"

"My piece is of the falls at the state park in Big Sur. The variety of images I saw of it on Google evoked a feeling of tranquility, something I tried to capture as best as I could."

Meet the Judges

Anne Austin

Anne has been working for the City of San Pablo in their community-based gallery as Gallery Director since 1999. Anne curated approximately 140 exhibits and has worked closely with many Bay Area artists. She specializes in helping artists in their careers, championing emerging artists by helping in the beginning and introductory stages of their careers, showing them first steps and getting them on the road to taking the next steps with their work. Anne joined ArtTable in 2005 and has been involved with the local members and activities since she joined.

Suzan Friedland

Suzan Friedland holds a Master’s of Fine Arts degree and is an innovator in the world of contemporary textile art. Her pieces are included in the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles in San Jose, California and private collections around the country. Her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications. She has lectured and taught on surface design, including workshops at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum in San Francisco. She was awarded a fellowship and residency at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont. She currently teaches K-8 students for the "Art in Action" program in Burlingame California and lives in San Francisco and Gualala on the North Coast of California.

Carolyn Gibbs

Carolyn Gibbs is a Professor in the Department of Design and is currently serving as the Chair of the Department of Art at California State University, Sacramento. Gibbs is a California licensed architect with over nine years of professional practice experience in the Sacramento, CA and Baltimore, MD regions. She joined Sacramento State’s Interior Design Program in 1998 and teaches in the design studio and design technology areas of the curriculum.

Laurel Mathe

After graduating from California State University Chico with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication, Laurel has spent over 25 years as a professional designer and illustrator. She’s garnered awards and has had her work featured in books such as LogoLounge’s Master Library Series and many other art and design publications. Over the years, she’s created pro-bono work for numerous non-profit organizations, including Protect American River Canyons, Friends of the River, the Wilderness Society, Art Directors & Artists Club of Sacramento, and for local museums and art events. Laurel has also served as a president and/or board member for a variety of non-profit organizations. She mentors students interested in the arts and is an art docent for her local elementary schools.

Hilary Sheehan

After earning a PhD in Economics from UC Berkeley in 1988, Hilary had a conversion experience during an adult education drawing class. Since then she has immersed herself in art and never looked back.  Long fascinated by industrial architecture and mechanical gadgets, she playfully incorporates these elements into her abstract paintings, prints and drawings. Recently she has added creating short-format whimsical animations to her repertoire. Her upcoming solo show "Gadgets and Landscapes" will be at the Bay Model Visitor Center in Sausalito from February 28 to April 9, 2017.

Barbara L. Steinberg

Barbara Steinberg is a freelance travel writer. Recognized as a California travel authority, she’s been exploring and writing about the Golden State for more than 25 years. She is everywhere you want to be in California – off road and on, urban and rural, 5-star resorts and hidden hot springs, gourmet or dive – her moniker is Are You That Woman @California Travel Insider. She is!  Barbara has been a member of the California Watchable Wildlife Committee for more than 20 years and serves as their Outreach Coordinator representing the organization at wildlife festivals throughout the state. She also administers the California Wildlife Photo Contest of the Year, now in its seventh year.

Bruce Stiny

Bruce Stiny joined the staff of the California Museum in August 2015 as Curator. He has had a long association with the California Museum, and has assisted with numerous exhibits there since 2004. Bruce retired from the California Department of Parks and Recreation as a Museum Curator III in 2010. During his 20 year State Parks career he held a variety of positions. Highlights of his State Parks career included, overseeing the Statewide Collection of over 1 million artifacts, being project lead on a 1.5 million dollar toy train exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum, and supervising numerous museum exhibits on California history.

Since "retiring" Bruce has had his own museum consulting and mount making business and has worked as a seasonal Park Ranger with National Parks at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Mesa Verde National Park.

Sharon Stone Smith

Sharon Stone Smith is the first Executive Director of the Sacramento Children’s Museum. Sharon received her Master’s degree in Non-Profit Administration from Case Western Reserve University and her JD from the University Of San Diego School Of Law. Sharon began her career in the nonprofit sector with a position at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and has more recently served as the Associate Director at the Ocean Park Community Center.  She spent six years at the California Association for the Education of Young Children as Marketing Manager and Conference Director. She also is a Past-President of the Fairytale Town Board of Directors, serving on the Board for seven years. She lives in Sacramento with her husband Mike and two children.

Kristina Swanson

Kristina Swanson is the Chief Operations Officer for the Sacramento History Museum and the Sacramento History Alliance. For the past ten years, Kristina has supervised exhibits and public programs at the museum and in the Old Sacramento Historic District.  She has coordinated many events and projects with Capital District State Parks including the recent multi-agency partnership resulting in the reorganized Sacramento Visitors Center. Kristina served as the treasurer and chair of the Sacramento Association of Museums and currently serves on the steering committee and regional council for the California Association of Museums Networks for Collaboration. Kristina’s passion for American Studies includes the literature and art inspired by the beauty and diversity of this country and continent.

Nikki Vismara

Nikki Vismara is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she majored in Visual and Critical Studies. In 2009, she completed a Master’s degree specializing in Paleolithic Art at l’Université Lumière in Lyon, France. Nikki lived in France for nearly a decade, where she taught English and Art History at the university level. In 2013, she returned to her native California, where she resides in San Francisco and works out of her studio at the Hunter's Point Shipyard. Vismara’s artwork can be found in private collections in the United States and Europe.

Leslie Williams

Leslie has spent her entire life surrounded by art. She grew up in a home where her Dad's ceramic pots lined every shelf and his paintings filled every wall. In an effort to fill her home with the same coziness, she took up painting and wire sculpture. Her inspirations come from her background in science and love of fantasy novels. She has a B.S. in Neuroscience from UCLA and is an active volunteer at the local library. She is currently working on a collection of acrylic paintings of otherworldly landscapes and large topiaries built of chicken wire.

California State Parks Foundation

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