Meet Maia Shockley, an award-winning artist with special talent

Maia Shockley is the Best in Show winner of the 25th Annual Rembrandt Youth Art Competition presented by Tampa Regional Artists, with her digital painting, “Dani Rose and Me.”

There is no doubt that this is a great painting. And when you meet Maia, you will be even more inspired by this creative young artist.

That’s because Maia Shockley is just 11 years old and has a genetic disease called SMA (spinal muscular atrophy) that weakens her muscles. She cannot walk or move most of her muscles, but she can use her left thumb to create digital paintings using a trackpad.  

According to Maia, “Art is my creative outlet. It's how I share my ideas and my mind to people without having to say a single word. And It's not only a hobby. I aim to have art as a career. Due to my condition, there are not many 'normal' career paths I can choose from, but luckily, art does not require much physical strength. My inspiration is actually how I am able to inspire people with my art and story. It motivates me to keep creating so I can motivate others.”

Maia has been creating visual arts her entire life but has really focused on improving her skills over the past two years. She first started drawing, doing small black and white sketches. Now, she is doing digital painting, either based on scenes from real life, such as Dani Rose and Me or from her imagination. This young artist is dedicated to improving her skills. She takes two art classes -- one every Thursday, and one every other Friday -- with her instructors: Catherine Lasky and Michael Lyman. She says, “I am extremely grateful for both of my instructors, they have taught me many useful techniques and tips. I would not have gotten this far without them.”

How did she create this striking digital painting that won Best in Show?

“The painting is of Dani Rose, the horse, nuzzling me gently. I created this piece a few days after touring the ranch where Dani Rose lived. Catherine Lasky was with us at the ranch and helped me create Dani Rose and Me. I chose to draw the piece to show the connection between us, and to show my love of animals. I usually start with a photo of the subject as a reference and go from there, however, I do add some artistic touches to it. My paintings usually take around 1-3 days depending on how much detail is needed. All the tools I use are on my digital painting software.”

What’s next for Maia?

“I've taken on commissions recently, so that's been keeping me busy for the time being. I plan to participate in more art shows and I'm always improving my art little by little each day, but I'm not in any rush. Hopefully, soon I'll create my next big piece!”

Maia says she was very honored to win Best of Show in the Rembrandt Youth Art Competition.

“This is a milestone in my art career and a huge step for getting me recognized as an artist.”

Kathy Durdin, a national award-winning watercolor and mixed media artist who lives in Tampa, is President of Tampa Regional Artists. “We are very honored that Maia has shared her art with us and agree that everyone who sees her work and learns about her would be inspired by her,’’ Kathy writes. For more information, visit Tampa Regional Artists.
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