Padnos leads first Young At Art project by a student
by Hibah Samad
Mira Costa junior Anthony Padnos took center stage on Tuesday morning at American Martyrs O’Donnell Hall. Padno was the first student artist to be selected by Young at Art to lead a class. He was here to give a Doodle Magic docent training.
The packed room was made up of parents from Manhattan Beach Unified and Hermosa Beach City School District ready to learn about his project, which was one of six chosen this year to be part of the volunteer-run Young at Art organization’s programming that brings the magic of art onto campuses across the South Bay.
Padnos found his way into that magic during the depths of the pandemic.
“I became immersed in the world of art and, most specifically, the world of doodle art…COVID was a hard time for a lot of people, and this kind of outlet let me get through it,” Padnos said.
Doodle art sparked Anthony’s interest when he was in 7th grade after he was looking for hobbies to keep him busy during the pandemic. Inspired by artists such as Gawx and Vexx, who are among the most popular visual artists on social media, Anthony taught himself doodle art. Now Padnos’ own posts under the handle “AnthArt” on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram have attracted over 200,000 followers. Coupled with his social media fame, Padnos said that he hopes his role as a YAA artist will make a positive impact on the lives of others. He said it was a privilege to be selected by the group.
“It’s such an honor…when I was younger, I loved reading Judy Blume and her books,” he said. “I thought my life’s goal was to have an impact like her.”
Padnos said that doodling is an art form that has no limits to the imagination, and he is excited to see other artists’ doodling come to life. Doodle Art is a timeless style of art with an updated twist. The doodles these days are more fun, more detailed, and with brighter and brighter colors.
Young At Art each year receives project submissions from artists from across the South Bay. Padnos’ project marks the first time a student project was selected and is being taught to docents.
Young At Art’s mission statement says its goal is to encourage each child’s creative and mental growth through meaningful art experiences in a non-judgmental environment, to develop the child’s visual perception and awareness, and to make community resources in the Arts more available to children.
YAA Design Committee Co-Chair Lisa Barrios said that they have seen a wave of submitting artists who have been around for many years and share the same projects every year. The organization’s recent push, which Padnos represents, is for accepting a wider range of projects setting up for what is yet to come.
“We want to make sure we have a pipeline for the future, so we started to make a push for new docents to submit their projects,” Barrios said.
Projects like Padnos’ are evaluated based on various criteria, including artist-grade materials used, inspiring artists, and/or art movement.
Padnos ascension represents a full circle moment. His own love for art was developed at Grandview and MBMS through Young at Art. Padnos’ says YAA inspired him to continue having art to be part of his life as he got older. His mother, Ellen Padnos, was a long-time docent and YAA Co-Chair for Grand View Elementary.
“I love Young and Art because it has been awesome to learn different styles every single month since the time I was in kindergarten,” Padnos said.
During the training workshop, Padnos taught the techniques he used for his project. Docents are trained to teach the project at their schools.
“I want to put something out in the world that makes people’s lives better,” he said. “If I can spread this doodle art that has gotten me through a time I couldn’t leave my house, I think I can bring a lot of joy to a lot of people.”
Barrios said that Anthony’s work was selected because it was a rich project that students would be inspired by and because it had a mental health component.
“It’s based on his own art, which is inspired by artists who are popular online, and it’s a fantastic, very strong project,” she said.
At the end of each training, all of the docents held up artwork, a tradition that takes place at every training. It was something Padnos was looking forward to.
Recently, Padnos was also a speaker at TEDx Manhattan Beach. He spoke about the power of open dialogue and free expression. Along with being an artist, Padnos is part of Model United Nations (MUN) and also leads the Manhattan Beach Middle School MUN Club, mentoring students in debate and preparing them for high school programs.
Young At Art serves students from kindergarten through 8th grade. YAA will start accepting new artist projects for the next school year in January 2024. See young-at-art.info/ for more information. ER