A rock. A piece of paper. An unfrosted cake or cupcake. You can put just about any plain surface in front of 16-year-old Alyssa Molina and she will turn it into a work of art in no time.

The Avon Lake teen is spending her summer brightening landscapes with her colorful painted rocks and bringing smiles to recipients of her custom-designed cards and baked goods.

She took up art as a little girl, starting with crayons and chalk then moving on to watercolors and paints. “I like to experiment with art,” she said. Her current projects allow her to have fun while trying new ways to create art.

It's been two years since she and her younger sister, Ava, decided to create art on rocks. They search for rocks with flat surfaces, then figure out the design that will best suit its shape. They use acrylic paint pens, which allow them to incorporate fine detail into each piece.

Kids and adults walking past the family's Avon Lake residence have been treated to a Monarch butterfly, summer sandals, watermelon, a triple scoop ice cream cone, baby blue camper and an American flag. The colors pop against the brown mulch they are settled in, so walkers can spot them easily from as far away as 20 feet.

Alyssa and Ava have been known to place their rocks in different locations, affording an even greater chance of attracting admirers.

An avid crafter, Alyssa also enjoys baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes. She admits her joy is found in decorating. Recently, she presented a half dozen summer-themed cupcakes to a neighbor who had hand surgery. Half were Alyssa's take on popular summer s'mores. Tucked into the chocolate frosting, was a piece of graham cracker, chocolate square and marshmallow. The other half were decorated in pink and yellow frosting swirled into the shape of a rose and topped with sprinkles. One had a tiny chocolate butterfly on top, also her creation. She said the frosting was Italian meringue buttercream, a tip of the hat to her Italian ancestry.

She also has created baked goods and chocolate-covered pretzels for baby showers, birthdays and other special occasions. She designed a cupcake for a baby girl shower featuring pink gradient frosting, then adding tiny little pink bows that Ava helped her tie and safety pins suitable for cake decorating. To the pretzels, she added pink drizzle and pink and white sprinkles.

In case a card needs to accompany the baked goods, she is prepared to design a custom card for the occasion.

Her mom, Melinda, said she's not had to purchase a card in years, thanks to her daughter's creativity. One card sample Alyssa previewed features a detailed color drawing of a typewriter with a paper coming out of it saying, “You are the author of your own story.” Inside the message reads, “And now you get to write the next chapter.”

She created 10 original designs thanking health care workers as COVID-19 began to sweep the country. “I like to use a lot of different materials like rope, dried flowers, glitter or metallic paper,” she said, adding that she's also manipulated the paper so it has curly-edge pieces to make it look like flower petals. The cards allow her to show her artistic ability as well as her calligraphy skills, which she said she has practiced extensively.

One might think she leans towards a career as an artist. However, she has other plans. She is enrolled in honors courses at Avon Lake High School, where she will be a junior this fall. She enjoys math and science and is considering working in medicine or engineering.

However, she seems confident that art will remain her hobby. “I always liked doing artistic things, anything I could express through my art.” She provides her custom-designed cards and baked goods through her Instagram account, Alymo_creations_.

Contact freelance writer Michele Murphy at avonlakemurphy@gmail.com.

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