hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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September 5, 2013

Haverhill's own 'Pint-Sized Picasso'

Girl wins art contest on 'Today' TV show

She’s been sketching and drawing since she was a little girl.

First it was little Pokemon dragons and other “mythical’’ things. Then she enrolled in art classes and her creative side blossomed.

You could say she’s a “Pint-Sized Picasso’’ — that’s the title she earned as the winner of a recent “Today’’ show edition of “Quest for the Best.”

Ariane Avandi, 12, a seventh-grader at Hill View Montessori Charter Public School in Haverhill, was invited late last month to the set of the popular TV show in New York City. There, her drawings and paintings, along with artwork of two other finalists, were judged on live television by well known painter Rob Surrette. Co-host Natalie Morales and guest co-host Mel-B introduced the contestants on the show’s outdoor set in Rockefeller Center.

Ariane was nervous on the inside, but appeared calm on camera as she explained her artwork to the artist.

It was a water-color image of a swimmer that she’d painted in the spring as a gift.

“I painted that for my coach as a going-away present,” Ariane said. “It was really just for her.”

Ariane said her former swimming coach was eager to return the painting so Ariane could enter it in the contest. Ariane brought other paintings with her. One was an oil painting of a phoenix and the other a pencil drawing of a dragon’s eye.

“I really like mythical creatures and I saw an image in a book about dragons and decided to draw it,” Ariane said.

“I looked at different images of phoenix birds on Google and sort of morphed them together in oil,” she said.

Ariane’s mother, Christine Durette, said her daughter has enjoyed sketching and drawing since she was a little girl and, for the last year or so, has been taking art lessons at the DeClerck Gallery in Plaistow.

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