Eleven-year-old Elisabeth Anisimow has built up quite the college fund doing what she loves: painting.
The child art prodigy has raked in about $35,000 in art sales since she started selling her work at 7 years old, she tells CNBC Make It.
Much of that has come from her "living paintings" — she paints a living person along with a backdrop and props, in the style of famous impressionist works by the likes of Monet, Degas, Renoir and Rembrandt.
"You can move around but you still look like a painting," Anisimow tells CNBC. "That's why they're called living paintings. Because paintings don't move around."
Ballerina Kaylee Quinn painted by Anisimow in the style of Degas' iconic ballerinas. All photos courtesy of Ekaterina Anisimova.
The Los Angeles-based artist, who says she reads art books for fun, was inspired by the European tradition "tableaux vivant," which translates from French to "living pictures." Especially popular in the 19th century, it involved actors transforming themselves to represent scenes from art, literature or history.
To create a piece she can sell, a camera captures images of her painted subjects in different poses, which are printed onto canvases and framed. Anisimow, who converted her parents' garage into her studio, showcases her work at art galleries, festivals, charity events and fundraisers.
Author Wendy Plumb painted in the style of French impressionism
Anisimow sold one of her first living paintings — of a girl carrying a basket of apples — when she was just 9. "It was for quite a high price, but it made me realize that I can do this, something that I really like, and still get paid for it," she says.
Anisimow was just 9 when she started selling her living paintings.
Her living paintings range from $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the complexity of the project and the cost of the materials. Anisimow, who calls herself an artist and entrepreneur, is saving her money so she can study art at the Sorbonne in Paris when she grows up.
Her clients come through referrals or her social media accounts. People reach out and ask her to paint them, she says. "They want to see themselves in a painting. And then they're like, 'Can you do a painting of me and can I be in it? Or a painting of my children?'"
TV host Kathryn Eisman and her daughter Capri painted in the classic pastel colors of Monet
But social media is also where she encounters people who doubt her abilities. "They're like, 'I don't believe it. It has to be some kind of parent or something. An 11-year-old is way too young to do this,'" Anisimow says. "I don't care what they think because I know that this is me. This is my style and this is who I am and nothing can change that."
Anisimow uses others' doubts to fuel her growth as an artist. "It's like a compliment, and I'm like, 'Well, I'm going to prove it to you' and it supports me to do something even better and bigger than I did before,'" she says.
Twins Hannah and Lauren Bernaba painted in the style of Flemish art
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