By Joel Hall
When Noah Nettleton, the son of Jonesboro Public Works Director Joe Nettleton, was 5, he started drawing cars.
Now 16 years old and a sophomore at Luella High School, his interests have deepened and his skills have matured, so much so that he took away the first place prize for art at the Kiwanis Art/Talent Show for all Henry County students.
The title of his winning entry was "Second Childhood," a piece that employs pointillism, a painting technique which uses variations of primary and secondary colors to create subtle visual effects, made famous by the French postimpressionist painter, Georges Seurat.
Working on the painting for an hour every day, it took Noah Nettleton two months to complete.
"It takes so long to do something exact like that," he said. "It wasn't a school project. It's something I wanted to do for fun."
His art teacher at Luella High School, John Wood, took notice of the piece and entered it in the competition.
The younger Nettleton said receiving the first place award was a total shock to him.
"I was so surprised when the lady called me and said that I actually won," he said. "I didn't think it was good enough to win, but obviously it was."
Joe Nettleton said his son has always had a love of art. "He's always loved to draw and mess around with color since he was about 4 or 5 years old. He got a lot more serious about it in the last 3 or 4 years," he said. "I'd like to see Noah's art career go as far as he wants it to go. We'll do what we need to do to get him where he wants to go."
Noah got the idea for the piece after a picture in a magazine caught his eye. The picture was of an elderly man sucking on a pacifier.
"It's not something that you see every day," he said. From there, he set out to recreate the image on a canvas.
The inspiration for the name of the entry came from his grandmother, Donna Nettleton, a secretary and clerk for the city of Jonesboro.
"We were looking at this picture and kind of laughing about it because he looked like he was going through his second childhood," she said.
The name was pretty clear after that.
On top of being a talented artist, and a member of the Luella High School golf team, Noah Nettleton is also a type one diabetic. Type one diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, is more severe than type two diabetes and requires constant monitoring of blood sugar levels. He was diagnosed with it when he was 14 months old.
"My mom and dad have always kept a close watch on me," he said. "I just have to keep on my toes and make sure my blood sugar is OK. I'm very in control of it."
And he hasn't let the condition keep him from swimming, bicycling, and go cart racing.
"He's fabulous," said Donna Nettleton. "He doesn't let it stop him whatsoever. He's never been conflicted with what he wants to do. He's always been very active."
"Nobody gives me a hard time about it," Noah said. "Some kids may ask 'how come you drink Diet Coke?' and 'how come you don't eat as much as we do?' Nothing too bad."
He has recently set his sights on architecture and said that he eventually wants to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) or Georgia Tech to become an architectural engineer and design houses.
Houses are, "not something you just pass by and see," he said. "You actually live in a house. You interact with it every day."