GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Brisa Delgado enjoys art class like any other student. For her, it's always been a way to have a little fun while making it through the school day. She never thought much would come of it.

To her surprise, though, a piece of art she painted using watered-down acrylic paint was selected as a national finalist in the River of Words art contest, an international youth poetry and art contest meant to promote environmental literacy. Her teacher at Da Vinci Academy, Lyndrid Patterson, urged her to submit the piece titled "Boiling Point," which will now be published in the national and Georgia River of Words book.

"I don't really consider myself really good at art," Delgado, 13, said. "But once I started taking art, I kind of learned more and learned how to be better at art."

Delgado said she didn't know how she came up with the idea for her painting. The inspiration is based on the water reflection of many small balloons that make up two different larger balloons. She said she used Google to help her find a name for it.

It took her about three weeks to finish the piece, which is more time than usual for her. Delgado had to find the perfect items to trace to get the different-sized circles before she was able to begin painting.

"We're lucky here," Patterson said. "When we have art, we have it all day. So they get it for an hour every day. So it's really huge because you can teach them so much because you can build. That's honestly why they're so good, because you can spend so much time building really in-depth concepts with them."

Delgado said the class had been studying complementary colors and she really liked the combination of purple and orange. So that's what she used. By using watered-down acrylic paint, which mimics watercolor, she was able to blend different shades of orange to add contrast while doing the same with purple. Finally, she added blue to represent the water.

"I've learned how to use colors and different ideas," Delgado said. "Not just do some boring stuff that you see a lot, but turn it into something cool."

She sits at a table with her friends near Patterson's desk. Patterson said she can hear Delgado and her friends chatting throughout class.

"They evaluate each other and they critique each other for good and bad," Patterson said. "Which is good because in here we don't want to just settle for what's OK. We want to keep pushing for what's better."

Without those friends, Delgado might not have become a national finalist. She said they help her figure out when something doesn't look right.

"They're always supporting, but they'll tell me if I need to fix something or make something look better or use different colors," Delgado said.

Those friends and her family are happy to see her find something she enjoys doing. Delgado said she never really focused on art in school, but once she finished "Boiling Point," she thought she might have a future in art. She said she still has a while to figure that out, though.

"(My family) never expected me to be an artist," Delgado said. "They probably expected me to be better at something else other than art."

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Information from: The Times, http://www.gainesvilletimes.com