Boy artist brushes with fame as works go on show

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Edward Simpson first drew an army of admirers who snapped up his colourful paintings of animals when he was a primary school pupil.

Now the talented artist, who shot to fame at the age of six, is displaying his new paintings at his own exhibition at the age of 12.

He has been working hard on his art for the past six years and is now exhibiting 11 new acrylic paintings at a gallery near his home.

The youngster loves nothing better than practising his brush strokes and his family say he loves painting so much he would paint all day long if he was given the opportunity.

His grandfather Leslie Simpson, 81, himself an artist, said: “Since Edward first exhibited when he was six, he has been working on commissions. He did one recently for someone in Venice.

“He also gives his friends his paintings as birthday presents, they always ask for them.

“He’s very determined and sure of himself, I think he will paint for the rest of his life, he is so talented.

“If he had the chance he would paint all day long, that’s all he wants to do.

“I can’t believe the way he can handle a brush, he’s just got a natural flair.

“He is working on a painting of an owl at the moment and he wants to move on to watercolour landscapes.”

The exhibition in Knaresborough, features paintings of the Eiffel Tower, a row of beach huts, geese, a lighthouse, a camper van, a Volkswagen Beetle, a starfish, a seahorse, a puffin and angel fish.

Elaine Grinter, who runs Art In The Mill in the North Yorkshire town, said Edward’s skills were well-developed for one so young.

She said: “He’s definitely the youngest we’ve exhibited but beyond his years in terms of the things he is tackling.

“He is very confident and assured and his painting is very considered.”

Teachers first discovered Edward’s natural paint brush skills when he was just four years old – and he comes from a family of talented artists.

His father Nigel Simpson, 44, was commissioned to paint for the Queen Mother when he was aged just 13 and his grandfather Leslie is a portrait artist and illustrator of popular children’s book Ollie the Whimseycollie.

Mr Simpson, who has also painted since he was four, regularly takes his grandson with him to various art exhibitions and the pair are often found side by side painting together.

Edward’s great-great-great-great grandfather James Simpson was a famous architect who designed and built 17 chapels throughout his home city of Leeds. World-renowned portrait painter, John Simpson, is another family member.

The artist – who was born in 1782 – was a favourite of King William IV before becoming the Royal Portrait Painter to Queen Dona Maria of Portugal. He is now widely regarded as one of the leading portrait painters of the early 19th century.

Edward has also been inspired to continue painting after meeting artists David Shepherd, Terrence Cuneo and Rowland Hill. He paints supervised by grandparents Leslie and Margaret, 63, at their house in Beverley, so he doesn’t mess up the house he shares with his mother Wendy Simpson, 44, a teaching assistant, father Nigel, a construction worker, and his younger sister, seven-year-old Annabelle.

Mr Simpson said of his grandson: “His mother won’t let him paint at home because it’s too messy, so he comes to our house. Margaret and I both enjoy painting so its not a problem and he knows he won’t get distracted by his sister if he’s here.”

Edward’s mother said: “Both me and his dad feel very proud. I hope that he can just keep showing his talent in his paintings. In the future I want him to continue and develop his own style of painting. It makes him happy. He’s car mad too so I could see him going off in a camper van with his sketch pad and painting.”

Edward said: “My favourite paints are acrylics at the moment and I paint on canvas. I’ve done one of the Eiffel Tower recently from the internet.”

Ann Francis, vice principal of Harrogate High School, where he is a pupil, said: “Edward has a discerning interest in art with particular emphasis on creative use of images. He always approaches all work with a serious and mature manner which is way beyond his age.”

Edward rose to national and international attention when he became the youngest artist to exhibit, with his grandfather, at the British Watercolour Society’s Christmas exhibition in 2005. He hit the headlines again when he sold 14 paintings for more than £1,000 the following year.