First gallery for 12-year-old Penticton artist

Kehler Mackenzie Smith sold his first piece when he was eight years old, now he's joining two other artists for his first exhibition.

Kehler Mackenzie Smith has been an artist for as long as he can remember.

The 12-year-old Penticton artist started selling his work at the Penticton markets at the age of eight.

His first public gallery takes place April 30 at Tree To Me’s spring art opening in Keremeos.

A piece of Mackenzie Smith’s plein air work caught the eye of the owner of Tree To Me by chance while it was getting framed at the Tumbleweed Art Gallery in Penticton.

“It was about halfway through the framing and she saw it sitting on the table and said ‘I want this piece in my show.’ It was really cool I was blown away,” Smith said.  “It’s crazy, I can’t even believe it.”

He prefers creating highly-detailed pen and ink drawings, though he has tried a few watercolours and paintings as well as trying his hand at encaustic painting, done with heated beeswax.

“(Art) helps me focus and it helps me calm down and relax, it’s a soothing thing to do,” Smith said.

Most of his illustrations are on a smaller scale, about the size of a postcard, mainly due to a sketchbook he received as a Christmas gift a few years ago from his mother, which he still draws in today. He hopes to start making larger-scale drawings in the future.

Smith also helped paint a mural with the help of Naramata artist Johann Wessels, who helped Smith turn one of his postcard-sized drawings into an eight foot by eight foot mural as part of the Penticton Art Gallery mentorship program.

While he enjoys art, he hopes to grow up to be an astrophysicist.

“It’s cool because it’s like finding new planets, I’ve always been interested in that. Earth is such a rare planet that’s habitable, it would be cool to find something else just like it,” Smith said.

Aside from his interest in art and the stars, Smith is also a well-rounded athlete playing both soccer and rugby.

He’s excited to interact with people and talk about his art. It’s his first gallery display, but not the first time he has sold his art face-to-face. For the past few years Smith has sold his art at the Farmer’s Market as well.

“I think it’s cool to tell people about it and, it’s cool to have the exposure, it’s crazy to think that could happen to someone my age,” Smith said.

The show runs April 29 to June 2, with work from fellow artists Stéphane Cantavénéra and Julie Hinton also on display at Tree To Me, 1217 Highway 3A, Keremeos. The opening takes place April 30 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Call 250-499-9271 for more information.