Out of hundreds of entries, Leslie Martinez copped the third-place award in the 2020 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo Art Contest with her acrylic painting on canvas of a Texas barbecue lunch.

The Waxahachie High School senior competed in the High School 2-D Division category on Jan. 11. Her performance earned her a $1,000 scholarship.

“I cried! I was so happy and excited,” Martinez said. “I didn't know how to express my feelings and I immediately called my mother when I learned I was chosen for the awards.”

The art student also earned an additional $800 toward her scholarship fund after the piece was sold in an auction.

This was Waxahachie High School’s first time participating in the annual contest, open to Texas students. Art teacher Breelyn Wright brought the idea to her students.

“I introduced my students to the contest with the broad theme of ‘Texas’ and allowed for their creative freedom on choice of medium,” Wright explained. “Leslie chose to paint acrylic on canvas of a Texas barbecue lunch.”

Wright added that Martinez worked on the painting in class and finished it in less than two weeks.

The ambitious art student said she thought outside of the box when developing a concept for her art piece.

“I didn't want to go with the standard farm animal or typical Texas landscape,” the senior student decided. “I wanted to go with what is Texas in my heart, which is Texas barbecue and the people who make it. I was inspired by barbecue that I had at my church and the idea of the great food that you eat at the Texas State Fair.”

“Mrs. Wright is the best. She helped me form my idea and go outside of the box,” Martinez added. “She teaches me how to not hold myself back, creatively. She helped guide me on color choices, to be bold and critiques things I have issues with in my artwork.”

Wright is proud to see all of her students excel as artists.

“In painting, we learn about color theory, painting techniques and how to apply them,” she said.

“I have had Leslie in Painting for three years,” the teacher added. “She has grown so much in her skill, style and creative expression.”

The art competition this year received some 1,600 entries in different categories of competition. Only 44 contestants made it to the finals, putting Martinez in the top two percent of participants.

Martinez’s artwork is on display at the FWSSR until Feb. 8.