- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) - Age doesn’t limit talent, and that’s one belief a Mountain Home art gallery stands by.

Ava Obert, just 12 years old, recently made the top 25 list in the nation for her entry in the 2015 Federal Junior Duck Stamp competition. But her work doesn’t end there, as evidenced by a number of Obert’s paintings displayed at Rivertown Gallery.

Duane Hada, owner of Rivertown Gallery, believes the young student is well on her way to success. That’s why the nationally recognized outdoors artist is representing her. His gallery currently exhibits a few of Obert’s most recent paintings completed in May.

She’s the youngest artist to have her work represented by the gallery, something that Hada says happens rarely in the art world.

Obert says she’s already sold about a dozen paintings, The Baxter Bulletin (https://bit.ly/1QJnmBs ) reported.

“I really like painting, and I like drawing, too. That’s where I think I started into art,” Obert said. “I just had an art class with Bill Garrison on oils, and that was fun, too.

“I’ve been taking lessons since I was a little bit older than nine.”

Hada says the talented young painter started taking private art lessons after her mother, Summer Horne Obert, noticed her talent while participating in a summer art class at Donald W. Reynolds Library. Hada and Ava have gotten to know each other well since then.

“Had you done a lot of drawing prior to that?” Hada asks Obert. “Anything advanced?”

“I guess, well, I colored in the lines in kindergarten,” she says shyly.

Hada laughs.

“Well, I was always outside the lines.”

Obert lives in Gassville with her family and attends Pinkston Middle School. She will enter the seventh grade this fall. Her goal is to make a higher overall ranking in the federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest in 2016.

And it’s a good bet she will.

Every year, Obert has been improving. In 2014, she placed first in the state, but this year, she placed 14th among the top 25 in the nation, the youngest artist honored among thousands of entries.

Obert also recently participated in the 2015 State Fish Art Contest held by Wildlife Forever, a national charity for conservation. She received first place in grades 4-6 for her cutthroat trout painting.

Her favorite subjects to paint include landscapes and nature, influenced by her mentor, Hada.

“I really like doing it, and when I grow up, I think I want to have my own gallery,” Obert said, sitting in Rivertown Gallery.

Obert has gotten into plein air - painting on location. She participated with adults in the White River Artists’ 7th Annual Plein Air competition in May. Hada noted, because of her age, Obert competes in a special category.

To plein art paint is “the attempt to capture the light on that subject in a given amount of time,” Hada said. Artists are typically given an hour to two hours maximum to complete the task.

Hada feels Obert exhibits some notable skills of any other professional artist. She shows “keen observation, skill and control of the medium,” he said. When she started taking lessons, it started with colored pencils, then moved on to paint.

“Immediately, I saw a young lady, very mature, very articulate and advanced, I thought, in her ability to see,” Hada said. “That’s something that some people never learn, but anybody who is sort of creative needs to learn that ability to see.

“She saw that quickly, developed that quickly and it proved to me that she had skills. She was a quick study.”

Like a writer, Obert will develop her own voice as she learns more. A good painting doesn’t come automatically, Hada said. Both recognize that art can be a trial-and-error process.

“I just want to paint,” Obert said. “I don’t really care if it sells. I mean, I want it to be a success, but I just paint because I like it.”

“Ava’s got other things. She’s a pretty normal, well-balanced, 12-year-old,” Hada says. “But this is her focus, this is her gift.”

So, for Obert, what’s next? The young artist says she plans on starting her next Junior Duck Stamp and State Fish Art entries early for the 2016 contests.

___

Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, https://www.baxterbulletin.com


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