Artist finding success at young age

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2003

You’d never know it just by looking at Kayla Lee as she sits in her classroom at Fort Dale Academy, but there’s a lot of talent packed into her slight frame.

An accomplished artist at age 12, Kayla has managed to develop a style of her own and a winning tradition in the local art world.

Kayla is the daughter of Mack and T.K. Lee of Greenville. T.K. has long held respect in the Greenville community for her artistic accomplishments, and it seems she has passed her artistic genes on to her child.

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The sixth-grader smiles as she talks about her artwork.

&uot;I guess I first became intereseted in art from watching my mother do artwork for other people,&uot; Kayla said. &uot;She would take a picture of a building and then draw it.&uot;

Kayla says art is her favorite hobby, but she finds it hard to squeeze art into her busy schedule.

&uot;I don’t spend that much time doing it, because I have dance and piano lessons in the afternoons,&uot; she said. &uot;Most of the time, I just don’t think about doing art.&uot;

The artist said her most prolific times are during the summer, when she attends her mother’s week-long art courses.

&uot;I’ve been doing this since I was five years old,&uot; Kayla said. &uot;My mother will sit me in front of an easel in the corner of the class, and let me do my own thing. Sometimes I work on what the class is doing, but then I usually get caught up in something and spend the rest of the time working on that.&uot;

A product of one of those sessions is a remarkable acrylic painting of a cat, perhaps a leopard.

&uot;That painting took a very long time to do,&uot; Kayla said. &uot;But it’s one of my best, I think.&uot;

Animals are the artist’s favorite subjects to use in her creations.

&uot;I’m just really drawn to animals,&uot; she said. &uot;I don’t mean just cats and dogs – I like the more exotic animals, such as lions, tigers or zebras. I draw them a lot.&uot;

The pre-teenager takes her art very seriously.

&uot;I plan everything out in my head before I start,&uot; she said. &uot;My mother says I really shouldn’t do that, but I work best that way. I plan it out, draw it and then paint or mold it. Every little part is like a plan book in my head.&uot;

Kayla’s art doesn’t always work out as planned, though.

A recent piece is a 3D molded clay fairy that was originally going to be a statue.

&uot;My grandmother has a statue of a fairy sitting on a shell in her house that I thought was interesting,&uot; Kayla said. &uot;At first, I wanted to recreate that. But when I started working on it, the clay I was using wasn’t appropriate for that. It needed to be flat, so I had to change my plan.&uot;

The finished product won 1st place in the 3D category in Fort Dale’s recent art contest.

Kayla entered 10 pieces of art in the contest and won first, second or third place on all but one of them. That one received an honorable mention.

The budding artist is already making plans for her future, as well.

&uot;Just as I plan out my artwork in my head before I do it, I have my life planned out, too,&uot; Kayla said. &uot;I want to live in Greenville and be an artist. I probably won’t make any money, but I don’t want to do anything that I don’t enjoy. I enjoy art. It’s one thing that I’m really good at, too.&uot;