• Name: Brooke Pickel.
• Age: 13.
• Grade: 7th grade at Silverdale Baptist Academy.
• Favorite subject: History.
• Favorite color: Blue.
• Favorite book: The Nancy Drew series by Edward Stratemeyer.
• Dream celebrity encounter: Johnny Depp and Tyra Banks.
• Artistic idol: Vincent van Gogh and Thomas Kinkade.
CLAIM TO FAME
One of Brooke Pickel's oil paintings won second place in an art contest at the statewide Junior Beta Club convention in Nashville in November. One of her pieces sold for $400 in a school auction in October.
Forget not eating, many artists spend their entire lives starving for attention.
If the last several months are any indication, however, Brooke Pickel, 13, may be facing more feast than famine.
In October, one of Brooke's paintings sold for $400 during a silent auction at Silverdale Baptist Academy's Green and Gold Gala. In March, she completed a painting for one of her instructors, the latest of a handful of paid commissions she has received.
Thanks to the feedback and support from her customers, Brooke said her confidence as an artist is increasing.
"Now that I've got more experience, it probably is something I define myself by," she said. "At school, that's what people know me for.
"It feels good to know that people think of you that way. It makes me feel like I've accomplished something for my age."
Although Brooke said she has always been fascinated by paintings, she didn't begin painting until four years ago when she enrolled in weekly classes at the Children's Art Network in Dalton, Ga.
Now, she's constantly looking for inspiration, which she finds most often in natural and pastoral scenes that serve as her primary subject matter.
Brooke's bible teacher, Evan Pierce, said he was astonished at the quality of her oil paintings when he saw one up for auction at Silverdale Academy's Green and Gold Gala last fall.
"At first, I'm not kidding, I thought it was a Thomas Kinkade," Pierce said. "I looked to see who it was, and I thought, 'Oh my goodness, that's one of my students.' I had no idea she could do that."
Pierce was so impressed by Brooke's piece that he commissioned her in February to paint a piece of his new home for his wife Ginger's birthday. Pierce said the resulting piece, which Brooke finished in March, exceeded his expectations.
"It was incredible what she was able to do with it." he said. "It was absolutely beautiful. Obviously, the Lord has given her a gift."
In addition to painting, Brooke has also been a member of Silverdale Academy's student council for two years and is involved in the school's Junior beta club for honors students.
At a statewide Junior Beta Club convention in Nashville last fall, one of Brooke's pieces won second place in a statewide art competition. She will be attending the next convention in June to be recognized for the achievement.
Brooke's mother, Melanie Pickel, said that she and Brooke's father, Chris Pickel, were amazed when their then-9-year-old daughter brought home her first painting, an oil-on-canvass landscape of a Florida beach.
Watching Brooke become more self-assured as an artist has been a pleasure, Melanie Pickel said.
"I felt like, with the art, she was definitely where she needed to be," she said. "At her age, ... there are a lot of different pressures, and art is an outlet for her. For her to go and do this and be recognized for it has been good for her self-esteem."
Do you know a child age 13 or younger with a precocious talent in academics, athletics or the arts? The Times Free Press is searching for children to feature in "Talent Show," which appears in the Life section on Tuesdays. To nominate a child as a possible subject of a future feature article, e-mail staff writer Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 423-757-6205.