Canvas work

Creative Hands: MCHS student seeks to turn artistic talent into a career at Disney |

Sawyer Ring loves the meditative process of art.

The McLean County High School sophomore has been drawing and creating since he was young, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that he started painting a lot more. He did custom work for his friends and family; paint something other than a canvas.

For example, a friend would ask him to do a custom piece on his game console or his shoes, the 16-year-old said.

“I would paint on anything that wasn’t a canvas,” he says. “Now I move on to the walls.”

Recently, he completed a piece of chalk for a class project, in which he depicted Genghis Kahn – the first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire – on a classroom board.

His American history teacher was so impressed with the room that he commissioned Sawyer to paint a mural on his wall. This piece includes icons of American history such as the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, and other important pieces of United States history.

He was also asked to paint a piece for the MCHS Dining Hall. He was initially going to paint directly on the wall, but said the location of the piece would have required him to be on scaffolding for a long time.

“So now my teacher is building a long canvas for me to paint on, and we can just hang this piece,” he said.

Shots of this piece include people participating in various activities offered at school, from sports to performing arts.

MCHS counselor Caitlin West has known Sawyer since he was in eighth grade.

Before becoming a school counselor, she was Sawyer’s reading teacher, but she always knew he had an artistic talent and incorporated art into his other class assignments when possible.

“When we read ‘The Outsiders’ novel in eighth grade, he made this awesome poster for one of my homework assignments,” she said. “Even at Christmas he made these personalized little ornaments for my tree with cartoon characters on them.”

Sawyer strives to take all of the art classes offered at McLean County High, and is currently enrolled in a sculpture class, and he recently completed an internship at a ceramic studio.

He aims to gain as much artistic experience as possible to help him get closer to his career goals.

After graduating, Sawyer plans to study art at Murray State University, but his real aspirations lie in the Disney College program, which offers students the opportunity to work on the front lines at Disney parks.

Sawyer loves cartoons and animation, and has always loved Disney movies, shows, and concepts.

“My dream career is to combine all of that and work at a Disney park in Orlando, with Disney Imagineering or something like that,” he said.

Art is a rewarding hobby for Sawyer, but it’s also liberating. He creates art every day, whether it’s sketching or making digital drawings on his iPad, or working on an assignment for school.

“Creating art creates something physical that you can hold in your hand every time,” he said. “It’s a satisfying comeback, and it feels good to see this kind of creation.”

Bobbie Hayse, [email protected], 270-691-7315