Longform

Paint by Numbers

Page 7 of 7

"I'm trying to get away from flowers and do landscapes and stuff," she says, showing off a series of small paintings of doorways straight from the ideal Southern Living country home. They bring to mind the prolific work of Thomas Kinkade, "Painter of Light," but just barely.

Olivia is clearly better at flowers.

Having turned 15 in August, she may be on the down cycle as an artist, as a celebrity, as a commodity. Only time--and her ability to paint non-floral themes--will tell.

Valenty, however, still seems to have an unlimited supply of art prodigies up his sleeve. And he's not afraid to use them.


Ten-year-old Akiane Kramarik, currently living in Idaho, says her paintings are directly inspired by God, despite her having been raised in an atheistic household. One of Valenty's latest discoveries, her conversion to Christianity at 4 brought the religion to the whole family and provided the perfect backstory for Valenty to work from.

He's also recently worked with the Quinard sisters, 10- and 12-year-old Orange County artists who paint in vivid colors and, according to their Web site, see themselves "as heirs to the creative genius of Masters of the 20th century."

Valenty had just enough time to get Akiane on Oprah before the relationship went sour. Forelli Kramarik, Akiane's mother, says they are trying to negotiate the end of their contract with Valenty without a lawsuit.

"We just pray to have it as cool and as manageable as possible. It could be such a nasty, nasty situation," Forelli says.

Grace Divine, mother of the Quinard sisters, says that they never officially signed an agreement with Valenty. Though he did successfully sell many of their paintings, Divine was leery of Valenty's habit of writing his own contracts.

Valenty has gone back to representing the Petite Picasso, Alexandra Nechita, once again. He's also pitching the wares of a "great American expressionist" named Rebecca Inman. He seems to have reached something of a dry spell, posting an open call for art prodigies on his Web site.

With Valenty's record, it should be only a matter of time before the next prodigy pops up and he gets to do the Oprah rounds again. The celebrities will pay the big bucks, the collectors will get excited, and, possibly, someone will get rich off the whole deal.

In the meantime, Olivia is working on improving her landscapes. She plans to travel to France in October. She has an almost inhuman drive to remain positive.

"Artists dream of having their own galleries their whole lives. Forty-year-old artists want this. And I have it at 14," she says.

Finishing her fuchsias, Olivia erases the pencil beneath the watercolors.

"Mom, do you think this is done?"

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Andrea Grimes
Contact: Andrea Grimes