Young artist painting for tsunami relief |

Young artist painting for tsunami relief

Scott N. Miller
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyAnabel Johnson,7, has raised $650.00 dollars for the Tsunami relief fund by selling her art work.

EDWARDS ” Anabel Johnson has turned a birthday present and her own passion into nearly $700 worth of tsunami relief.

Anabel, a first grader at Edwards Elementary School, got a paint set and two canvasses for her birthday in December of last year. The budding artist bought more canvasses with money she received for Christmas.

She then got to work painting snowmen and snowmen, a fanciful piece she calls “Dot Bouquet,” and a version of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” which she found in one of her mom’s college textbooks.

As she painted, Anabel started thinking of selling some of her work, mostly as a way to buy more art supplies.

When a destructive tsunami hit Southeast Asia last month, Johnson’s mom, Carol, suggested that perhaps selling paintings to raise money for the relief effort might be a good idea.

“I said that’s a really good idea,” Anabel said.

At first, Anabel wanted to haul her paintings door to door. But taking a load of canvasses around a neighborhood is cumbersome, especially when there’s snow on the ground, so the family’s airy living room became a kind of gallery for her first “official” show.

The show was set for Feb. 13, and invitations were sent to friends, neighbors and teachers. When the show was over and the checks were written, the International Red Cross’ tsunami relief fund was nearly $700 richer.

Besides work she’d already done, Anabel took orders for new versions of paintings, especially her dot bouquets and skiing scenes. Three people at the show asked her for family portraits like the one she’d painted of her own.

“I’ve been painting since I was small,” Anabel said.

When she was about two, grandpa Bill Johnson turned Anabel loose with a paint set. She took to it quickly.

“I used to sit down with her and finger-paint,” Carol Johnson said. “I’d just had my second child, and it was great.

“She was always so focused, she loved it,” she added. “She was always asking me to paint.”

Painting and drawing took a lot of Anabel’s time as a preschooler at the Montessori Children’s House in Edwards. “She was always very interested in art, and very creative,” said Ruth Oppenheimer, a teacher at the school.

But it was the paint set, a gift from good friend Jordan Glendening, that really put her artistic impulses into overdrive. And the results have impressed Anabel’s clients.

“She does really great stuff,” neighbor Tia Petersen said.

Peterson and her family bought three of Johnson’s works at the show.

“They’re lovely friends and it’s an awesome cause,” Petersen said. “It’s wonderful a young girl would want to do something for other people like that.”

At the moment, a lot of Anabel’s work is her own impression of something else she’s seen, like her sunflowers. Other pieces, though, spring fresh from her 7-year-old imagination.

“Her bears are totally her own work,” Carol Johnson said.

So are the names: “Dot Bouquet,” “Mr. Snowman” and “Skiing Wave,” among others.

“It’s kind of easy to come up with the names, because that’s what they are,” Anabel said.

It also seems pretty easy to get the work done. “It takes me about a half an hour for the smaller ones.” Johnson said. “The big ones take a little longer.”

Even factoring in a first-grader’s struggle with time-keeping, it’s apparent she works quickly. Maybe a little too quickly.

Canvass costs more than paper, so and keeping a budding, quick-working artist supplied can get expensive.

“The next fund-raiser we have might be for Anabel!” Carol Johnson said.

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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