TRAVERSE CITY – Olivia Bishop, 14, is the daughter and granddaughter of artists.
One of her earliest memories dates back 11 years. She is with her grandmother, Joni Braun of Elk Rapids, who is showing her how to paint with watercolors.
A family video captures another early art event in Olivia’s life. She’s about the same age, tearing gift wrap off a box from grandfather David Bishop. It is full of quality brushes, paper and watercolors. Her mother, Lindy Bishop, gives the little girl a glass of water.
“And she began painting right there,” her mother said.
Fast forward to the present. Olivia is now 14, a freshman at Traverse City West Senior High School and juggling many things — classes, homework, track, painting, activities.
Over spring break she completed three 30-by-12-inch and 30-by-40-inch paintings of horses and stable scenes she had been working on to include in her mother’s month-long April exhibit of 16 paintings at the City Opera House. The show, called “ Williamsburg at the Opera,” focused on rural landscapes, farming and connections between land and people.
Olivia’s artist statement was posted next to her mother’s on a wall.
“I guess you could say I’m the right kid in the right environment,” she wrote “Something you don’t see very often is a 14-year-old trying to put herself out the art world.”
Olivia sold the two 30-by-12-inch paintings and has been commissioned to do a painting by someone who saw her work in the show.
What draws her to art?
“I love being able to capture something on canvas and choosing a color palette,” she said. “It’s a great way to express creativity.”
Painting is only one of Olivia’s passions. The 5-foot-11-inch ninth-grader also plays on the high school basketball, volleyball and track teams. Two weeks ago, she broke the freshman girls’ high jump record with a 5-foot-2-inch leap.
In December, she created her own online job and at-home marketing campaign called “Pet Animations” to raise money to buy Christmas presents.
She offered to draw pets for $10 on a digital tablet and create digital images that then could be emailed to customers who could send them to another website to be transferred to gift mugs, T-shirts, wrapping paper and other items. She marketed her plan via Facebook and email to her — and her mother’s — contacts.
She had several responses and was able to buy holiday gifts for her family.
Olivia attributes her early art start to her parents.
She grew up seeing her mother paint at home. Her father, Michael Bishop, an architect and artist, taught her perspective when she was 6. She spent a lot of time in the Elk Rapids gallery her mother had for three years before moving to Traverse City last year.
“I’ve grown up in an art family,” she said. “I had paper, drawing pencils and people who could me show me how to do it.”
Recently her mother asked her about her painting process and Olivia discovered something about herself that she uses when she paints.
“I visualize, and I’ve pretty much always done that,” she said. “I just didn’t realize it until Mom asked me how I painted what I do.”
Visualization helps her in sports and writing, too.
“If I’m about to jump 5 feet 2 inches, I picture myself going over with ease and usually that works,” she said. “With art, I picture a figure in some position and then draw in my head. With writing, I try to imagine everything in what I’m writing. Description makes it more interesting.”