The first time Ayla Bristow tried her hand at painting, she uncovered a hidden talent. With her first strokes she created a series of snow-capped peaks under an early-morning sky.
At the base of the mountains, trees welcome springtime with pink blossoms, and the clouds give a hint of pink sunrise.
That was last August. Since then she's created three more pictures in oils, each one more impressive than the last.
Painting is just one of many talents Bristow is discovering within her self. She's likely to discover many more in the coming years. Bristow, the daughter of Isaiah Bristow of Paonia, celebrated her 12th birthday in January. She and her siblings, two brothers and a little sister, were all born in the same week in January, she explained. Family is very important to her.
She credits her aunt, Cheryl Brown of Crawford, for introducing her to painting. Brown was an artist, buthadn't painted for about 10 years, said Bristow. She set her niece up with brushes, knifes, easel and paints that hadn't been used for years. They watched a Bob Ross tutorial to get an idea of what to do, then went to work. She described, in order, the different processes for turning oil into scenery, the types of brushes and how they are used, and differences in technique between creating a lake, a creek or a waterfall, and how to give a jagged rock its flat surface.
I met Bristow in a place where she's most at home: the Paonia library. She'd finished her homework at Paonia Elementary School, where she attends sixth grade. She was happy to have a free evening.
Bristow also writes, and she sings. On this particular day her voice was a bit on the raspy side, and since we met in the library, demonstrating her singing talents wasout of the question. Her voice was strained, she explained, because her grandpa recently sent her a karaoke machine. She'd spent every spare moment since then belting out songs.
Her normal voice is more smooth, and "big," she said, even though it's hard to imagine a big voice coming from such a small frame. She idolizes Adele, and loves singing her hit, "Rolling in the Deep." So much so that it got her sent to the principal's office. A friend heard her singing Adele's song one day and told all her teachers how good she sounds. Word got out that she has an amazing voice, and "Next thing I know I'm in the principal's office... singing."
She sang the song on KVNF one night. After singing over the phone to the DJ, a friend of her dad, he invited her to the station for a live broadcast.
With so many artists to choose from, Bristow said her taste in music is constantly changing. She'll memorize a song one day, and be over it and on to a new song the next.
"When I was little I adored Hannah Montana. Now I like One Direction," the five-member boy band sensation out of Europe. She rattled off their names — Liam, Harry, Niall, Zain and Louis — and described each of their voices in great detail. Bristow has a talent for detail. She admits to being a bit obsessed with One Direction at first. "But now I'm thinking, 'Boy bands are not the world. There's a lot more out there.'"
Bristow is open to all genres of music, except opera, which, she admits, she doesn't understand. "What's the point of listening to opera if you can't really get the story?" she asked. "I like opera, because it's really beautiful, but I don't listen to it that much, because I don't get it."
Two weeks ago, Bristow started playing the clarinet for the middle school band. She wanted to play an instrument, but didn't know which one. She tried a few instruments as part of the sixth-grade introduction to band, then got a chance to hear and play the clarinet. "I wasn't anticipating playing clarinet. I was actually thinking about choosing the flute, or percussion, or the trumpet," she said. But after trying the trumpet, she entered the woodwind room and heard the clarinet. "I fell in love with it," she said, just one day before band was to officially begin. "It's a beautiful sound."
Bristow writes, too. Fiction, mostly. She submitted a short story, "Missing," to the Colorado Council International Association's 2012 Young Writers' contest. "Missing" didn't win, but she wasn't deterred at all. She was happy to be recognized with a certificate from the council, and already has a draft for her next entry, "Saturday the 14th."
She also studied martial arts for five years, and won a championship. She made green belt, white stripe.
And she likes to design dresses.
Bristow can't decide which of her talents to pursue. As with her friends (whom she raved about), she loves them all, but each for a different reason.
"It's so much fun to paint. It's kind of like this escape out of everything," she said. Her first paintings came from her imagination, a process she enjoyed. "There're no mistakes. You can't make a mistake, because it's not a replica of any part of the world," she said. "It's just your imagination, your world that's coming to life on canvas. It's awesome."
But her most recent one, painted over last week's break from school (and after our interview), is of a familiar landscape: Needle Rock. A family friend offered to buy it before she even painted it.
But she spends more time writing than anything. It's easy to get drawn into the story, and into the painting, she said. "When I'm writing something I kind of go into the story and I have no awareness of what's going on around me. It's like, into the story, into the story, into the story, no escaping, until... I can't write anymore. My fingers are so sore."
As for singing, she's already working on a duet with a friend, which they plan to perform for a talent show this summer.
"I think it's too early to say," said Bristow when asked if college is in her plans. It's been a long time since one of her family members graduated. "But I kind of want to (go to college) because I want to be the person that does it, that person that changes the pattern."
School's great, she said. "But now it's getting really difficult. It used to be just like, 2+3, what's that? Five. Yay! I'm brilliant. But now it's like four and 1/3 divided by 3 and one half. Oh my goodness. 5W = 3.64..."
Bristow opened a locket dangling at the end of a silver chain. Her dad gave it to her. Inside are two photos, one of her and the other of her dad when he was younger. It's among her most valued possessions. For now, she said, she wants to spend time with friends and family, help her grandmother plant her garden, and collect rocks.
She is only 12, after all.blog comments powered by Disqus