Sheilah Sheldon-Charles is just 10, but her artistic skill has grabbed the attention of art aficionados globally.
Sheldon-Charles who began painting at the age of five, last year at the behest of California-based Tese Foundation traveled to the United States to teach a painting class.
Subsequently, she received the foundation’s Youngest Lioness Award recognizing her shrewdness with the brush, paint, pencil, and canvas.
Tese Foundation, is a non-government organization rooting for the welfare of destitute children in selected countries in Africa. Sheldon-Charles had offered her paintings for sale to raise money to assist the foundation’s quest to help southern African countries’ vulnerable children suffering as a result of a tattered economy.
The ten-year-old who’s in her fifth year in primary school told the Daily Nation: “I have been in the streets before and I know what it means to be destitute. I offered my pieces of art to the organization because it was what I could afford.”
Sheldon-Charles, the Daily Nation reported, also struck a deal with a Danish publisher to have her story used in an English textbook for the country.
The book, titled Yes We Can, which is both in print and digital form, told her story of love for art with illustrative pictures to teach children of her age how to spend their time at home and in school. The book is part of Denmark’s school curriculum.
Her international standing has also been boosted by local and international media. For instance, she has featured on BBC and Fox 40 television stations, among others.
Following her tour of the United States, Sheldon-Charles observed that: “I realized that art is more appreciated in other continents than in Africa when I visited the US. I could not believe the attention I received for my works.”
Titled ‘Real Life in Africa’, her paintings depict multiple activities taking place at the same time. From a traffic jam, patients stranded in a hospital to traffic police officers taking bribe from a matatu, the huge, magnificent painting is an attention grabber.
Some of her notable paintings include portraits of former US President Barack Obama, rights activist Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Oprah Winfrey.
She has also drawn and painted Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, governors Hassan Joho and Salim Mvurya of Mombasa and Kwale counties respectively.
The ten-year-old artist who dreams of becoming a designer and a model when she grows up is already cashing in on her portraits.
“I have sold numerous portraits locally and internationally because of the publicity I have received,” she told the Daily Nation.
Sheldon-Charles started painting and drawing at a tender age, according to her mother Vivian Adhiambo and that her amazing talent did not go unnoticed.
“Her teachers once called me to school, saying my daughter had something special in her. I did not believe them. They proceeded to show me her drawings and I was impressed,” said Adhiambo.
Speaking to the BBC, Sheldon-Charles said her preferred subject for painting and drawing are lions.
“I draw women because they suffer a lot. I draw them because they are the most important people in our family,” she added.