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Wilsonville High School graduate displays unique art at Starbucks inside Fred Meyer

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Derek Leitch's acrylic on canvas and acrylic on wood art is on display at the Starbucks inside Fred Meyer in Wilsonville.Artist Derek Leitch's ideas often come to fruition by the inspirational spirit he finds in wood — a medium he started working with more recently. Whether it's acrylic on canvas or acrylic on wood, his freestyle approach allows him to tap into his deeper consciousness.

"For drawing on wood, you kind of picture it in the wood grain, what the image would be. It's freestyle — the wood spirit is actually brought out of it," said Leitch, adding that on canvas, he likes to find the image through paint splatter. "I like to visualize it, let it take shape and sometimes it becomes something totally different."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Derek Leitch has a unique artistic style that he says is drawn from his deeper conciousness.Through early January, people can stop in and get their morning fix-me-up from Starbucks and enjoy Leitch's canvas and wood art on the walls.

Since the opening of Fred Meyer at 30300 Boones Ferry Road, Wilsonville, they have allowed the fine arts program at Wilsonville High School to select rotating artwork for display at the Starbucks inside. The rotating exhibit features work by students, graduates or faculty who have a connection to WHS.

Not only does Leitch have a strong connection to his art, he does to Wilsonville as well.

Leitch graduated from WHS in 1998 and then went to Southern California to study illustration and painting at Laguna College of Art and Design, before returning to Oregon six years ago.

"He remains one of my all-time best art students and he has works hanging in our Hall of Fame gallery in our school's entry lobby," said Christopher Shotola-Hardt, art director and art teacher at WHS. "He had such positive energy and loved everyone. If he was on the class roster, it was going to be a fun group. He was very enthusiastic and really got into all the art everyone was doing. His hard work served as an example for others."

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL - Derek Leitch takes a freestyle approach to his art and never pre-plans any of his creatioins.Leitch even designed the school's mascot through a contest when he was a 13-year-old middle schooler at Inza R. Wood Middle School.

"Then they took it to the next level. They sculpted it out of metal and made it really cool-looking," Leitch said. "I had an extra hunger for art and I wanted to find myself as an artist. I decided that when I was 13."

And being from a musical family, art was in his blood. While he does play percussion now, when he was younger he wanted to find a different way to express himself than through music, so he leaned toward art.

"I found my creative source there," he said, adding that his current relationships with music and art benefit one another. "Art adds patience to the music and music adds rhythm to the art."

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Derek Leitch says he likes creating timeless art. He even coats his acrylic on wood art so they can be archivable.Leitch has also created local murals, two being on the side of buildings on Hawthorne Street in Portland. He is also involved with a community show in Portland that is designed to unify art, music and dance as a way for artists to network and sell art. He has done several travel shows and music festivals, where he sold reproductions of his paintings on items like sweatshirts, T-shirts and stickers.

And now with his niche being acrylic on canvas and wood he sees it as "extra defining" for him as an artist.

"It blends an old style with a modern type of twist. I kind of wanted to make it timeless," Leitch said. "I am so excited because it's almost full circle for me. (Wilsonville) is my hometown, so I get to reconnect with people and my old art teacher. I'm just so thankful for it all."CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Derek Leitch creates art on various mediums, mural art on buildings is one of them.

Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Clara Howell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281 ext: 112.