HOLT, England (Reuters Life!) - A seven-year-old British boy is being hailed as an art genius after selling 16 paintings for 18,000 pounds ($29,280) in just 14 minutes.
Kieron Williamson from the eastern English town of Holt has artistic skills that would be the envy of any serious painter and drawn comparisons to Pablo Picasso, a child prodigy who became one of the most recognized artists of the 20th century.
Inspired by his local Norfolk landscape, on the East Anglia coast, Williamson's atmospheric pastels, watercolors and oil paintings -- which are valued at up to 1,500 pounds each -- show a maturity well beyond his years.
It all began on a family holiday to Cornwall on the southwest English coast when Kieron was five. Inspired by the harbor view, he asked his parents for his first sketch-pad.
From that moment on, he was hooked, according to his father Keith Williamson.
"When he first started painting he would be up every morning at six and we'd be woken up by the chink of jam-jars and he's still very much like that," Keith said.
While supportive, Kieron's parents are careful not to push their son. He only paints when and what he wants and the family limit the number of works they will put up for sale.
He has a waiting list of hundreds and requests for his work have been flooding in from all over the world.
Keith said a sale of Kieron's works held in November was phenomenal and even drew a buyer from Japan.
"We had people driving down that night, there were people on the door waiting to come in the morning who had been standing outside, the phones were going mad as soon as the door opened at nine o'clock and within 14 minutes the whole panel of 16 pictures had gone," he said.
Kieron, who goes to a regular local school, gets lessons from a local pastel painter and has been taken under the wing of the Picturecraft gallery in his hometown of Holt.
Picturecraft Managing Director Adrian Hill said Kieron is getting better by the day.
"It was a very, very quick transition from a good little amateur painter right through to someone who was producing a commercial item. It was shocking really to be honest....quite unique," he said.
Carefully hanging some of Kieron's best works, Hill said the art world has compared the youngster to a young Picasso.
"There is no reason why, if Kieron chooses to do so, that he can't achieve the same things. So you could be looking at the next grand master," he said.
All this talent, money and high praise could so easily go to a young boy's head, but Kieron said his friends keep him grounded.
"Some of them want to be as good as me and some of them think...Umm, 'you are not too special'," he said.
Kieron's favorite painter is British artist Edward Seago and he has spent some of his earnings to buy a work by his hero. The rest is being invested by his parents until he reaches 25.
Kieron's parents and his younger sister Billi-Jo don't see him as anything other than a normal seven-year-old who likes to tear around the house and who's mad about football (soccer).
But for now, with so much still to learn, there's only one thing he wants to be when he grows up.
"I think I'll definitely be an artist."
Editing by Paul Casciato