Many people have picked up new hobbies during the lockdown, but only a few could say that they’ve created something truly extraordinary with their free time.
One of those people is Makenzy Beard from Swansea, Wales.
When COVID restrictions kept her from playing hockey, the 14-year-old started looking for something different to do. She ended up trying out painting.
Makenzy dusted down some old acrylic paints and an easel that her mom had kept in their garden shed. Then, she started mixing colors on an old ceramic plate. She also had to cut up old paintbrushes because she didn’t have the very fine ones she needed.
The teen retreated in the rundown shed—which had been sort of a dumping ground—to make her art.
“There was an old rolled-up carpet, bits of driftwood, parts of an old boat,” Makenzy described her work area. “It was dark, dusty, no electrics or anything, so when I was working in here in the winter, I’d have to use the light from my mobile phone.”
Makenzy soon fell in love with painting. She would stay out in the shed late and get up early to work on her art.
Despite the less than ideal setting, Makenzy managed to produce something incredible in that shed—paintings that have been the talk of the art world.
In fact, one of her portraits has been displayed in the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts.
The subject of the painting was their neighbor, farmer John Tucker, whom Makenzy said has an “amazing face.”
“It’s very kind, like him, and it has character,” she said.
The portrait, which took Makenzy around 20 hours over a three-week period to complete, showed John in his work attire: a neon jacket and a black knitted hat. The teen was able to paint it such that his coat looked like it glowed from the canvas.
It was actually Makenzy’s mom who gave her the idea of painting John. One day, she asked the man if she could take a picture of him to paint, and he agreed.
Makenzy ended up with a stunning piece of art that appears to be made by a professional with years of experience, but she was none of that. Makenzy was only a Year 9 student, and she was new to portrait painting.
John was flattered when he saw the portrait in person. His family said the image was exactly like him.
“I didn’t expect to see what I did see in the end. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s like a photograph,” he said. “For her age, she’s a very talented young lady.”
Makenzy’s dad, David, said his daughter “captured the essence of the man” with her brilliant painting. It had soul, and that’s the reason it works.
Painting is just one of the many things that Makenzy does with excellence. This teen overflows with talent and drive—she plays hockey for Wales, trains with her football team four times a week, plays netball, and is a qualified lifeguard.
Although she enjoyed drawing and doodling during her art classes at Bishopston Comprehensive School and plans to study art at GCSE level, Makenzy has never tried her hand at painting portraits.
But when the lockdown forced her to look for other ways to spend her time, she started recreating photos she found on Pinterest.
Makenzy’s art teacher saw her painting of John and knew that it deserved a place in a gallery. So, she entered it for the Royal Academy’s Young Artists’ Summer Show, a national competition for amateur artists aged between five and 19.
Her painting was one of the 32,000 pieces submitted, and it was selected for exhibition. Since then, art enthusiasts in the Middle East, the United States, and the United Kingdom have expressed interest in her work.
According to Blackwater Gallery, three of Makenzy’s portraits have already been sold—one buyer offered £10,000 (approximately $13,785).
Makenzy’s school tweeted her work, and it went viral, with many people calling her a Picasso-in-waiting.
This teen is definitely one to watch out for, but she said she doesn’t want art to be the only thing she engages in.
“I’m not sure what I want to do in the future yet,” Makenzy said. “I enjoy too many things but I’d really love to continue with art, I really enjoy it. I’m really passionate about school and sport too. I’d like to see art in my future as well as many other things.”
You can find more of Makenzy’s spectacular artworks on her Instagram.