The pandemic led to people all across the world trying out new hobbies. Many of us have since tossed them to the side, but Makenzy Beard from Wales is just getting started.
When school shut down in 2020, Makenzy started painting on canvasses in her garden shed. The supplies were already on hand thanks to her mom, who used to paint as a hobby. With nothing better to do, Makenzy decided to give it a shot.
‘I’ve always loved creative things,” Makenzy said, “but up until that point that was my first time painting portraits.”
With photographs as a reference, she’d spend hours completing each portrait, but never all at once. In fact, one of her most popular pieces took her 20 hours in total.
The muse for that piece was her neighbor, John Tucker. He was working on his farm one day when she asked if she could take a picture of him. With no other details, he agreed. Needless to say, he was floored by the portrait she created.
“I didn’t expect to see what I did see in the end,” John said. “It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s like a photograph. My family say it’s exactly like me.”
Soon after discovering her talent, Makenzy started sharing her work on Instagram. She’s never been the kind of person to post much online, so she didn’t expect to get much attention. But as soon as she posted her portrait of John, everything changed.
“It’s a bit overwhelming to be honest because I’ve never been someone who has had much contact with social media,” she said. “But seeing people from all over the world commenting on it and talking about the light, the tones, and the texture, is just really wonderful for me.”
With such positive feedback, Makenzy entered the portrait into her first competition: the Young Artists’ Summer Show in the Royal Academy of Arts. Not only did she place in the competition, but it also led to her art being accepted into the prestigious Blackwater Gallery in London!
Since getting six of her pieces into the gallery in October 2021, her work has received praise from buyers across the world, including the U.S. and the Middle East. Three of her portraits have already sold, including one for £10,000 (that’s about $13,791).
The people of Blackwater Gallery are blown away by her talent, and they have no doubt that her future in art looks bright.
“I think anyone can be a good portrait artist, but I think it takes a lot to show real personality and the soul of a person through their pieces and I think for someone so young, Makenzy does this brilliantly,” Kimberley Lewis, director of the gallery, said.
One of Makenzy’s unsold pieces at the gallery is of her grandfather, though that’s exactly how it will stay. Unlike the rest of her work, this one is too sentimental to be sold to anyone.
“This is a whole new step for me,” she said. “Going from having your work in your own shed or posting it on social media, but then to have experts in the art world recognizing your work and to actually want it in their space to show it off is really nice. It’s not something I’ve done before. I’ve not been to many galleries before so I’ve gone from not going to many galleries to having my own work displayed in a gallery, which is quite a big jump.”
Makenzy is loving her newfound talent, but she’s not deciding on an exact career path just yet. She’s only 14 years old, after all, and she also loves sports, learning, and traveling.
“I think it’s convinced me even more that now I’m doing a bit of everything that I want it to stay that way. I don’t think I want to be an artist as a job but I want to have this on the side,” Makenzy said. “I think it’s quite nice to have a balance between art and academic stuff. I also want to travel and play sport.”
No matter what paths Makenzy chooses, there’s no doubt that she’ll be a huge success!
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