Colton High School junior Thomas Lemus has loved art and drawing since he was a young child.
Now Thomas’s incredible talents have earned him a spot at the 2019 California Mock Trial competition, which will take place March 22-24 in Sacramento.
While the San Bernardino County Mock Trial champion team from Cajon High School and other top teams in the state battle it out in the courtroom, Thomas and other artists will be quietly sketching the scenes unfolding before them.
“I think it’s cool,” Thomas said. “It’s a little surreal, but I think it’s cool to rep Colton.”
Thomas is the only courtroom artist from San Bernardino County headed to the state contest and is the first Colton High School artist to make it this far in the competition. A total of 17 artists competed for the chance to represent San Bernardino County at the state contest.
Thomas’s foray into courtroom art happened by accident. He said he joined the Mock Trial team this year to be with friends. Colton High School teacher Lucy Leyva, the team’s advisor, said she also encouraged Thomas to join.
“I saw his art and was like, can you be our artist?”
Thomas said he has loved art as far back as he could remember and is a self-taught artist. He recalls watching Sponge Bob Square Pants cartoons and stopping them every few seconds so he could learn to draw the character by examining each frame.
Mrs. Leyva believes that it is Thomas’s attention to detail that helps set him apart from competitors. Noticing the subtle nuances of what he sees is critical to his art, Thomas said.
“Courtroom drawing is about observation,” he said. “It’s something to practice.”
Winning the county competition, he said, “is very unexpected. It’s given me motivation to start practicing more.”
Thomas said his family is very proud of him. So is Mrs. Leyva. “He’s humble, talented and insightful,” she said. “He’s a wonderful young man.”