Jaden Vanderwindt: Prolific artist paints the planets
By Sue Tiffin
Outside The Carving Gallery on Hwy 35 in Moore Falls, Jaden Vanderwindt pulls a bright blue hoodie over his cap, covers his hands with protective gloves and lifts a mask to shield his face from paint fumes.
Undisturbed by pesky mosquitoes and able to focus, his hands move deftly as he coats a canvas with layers of spray paint in a manner that could be random if it wasn’t so clearly skilled. He thoughtfully places circular props at the top of the painting, weighing them down to create the effect he wants, and then scrapes the still-wet paint at the bottom of the canvas to reveal colour underneath the top layer, which takes the shape of buildings, a cityscape, and then very clearly, the Toronto skyline with a planetary backdrop.
Jaden is 12 years old, in Grade 6, and has sold more than 130 paintings, as is proudly recorded on a chalkboard hanging on the wall of the gallery his dad Walter owns, next to a display of Jaden’s work.
He’s been painting since he was four years old, when the first articles about his abstract art were published in the Minden Times and County Life, just prior to a television appearance called “Preschool Picasso” on CityLine.
When he was around eight or nine years old, Walter began showing Jaden how to draw, instructing from the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
“When I was young someone taught me in a similar way, and it’s just a switch, you look at things differently,” said Walter.
From drawing, Jaden became interested in anime, and then YouTube videos introduced him to artists like VEXX, who inspired him to try something new through tutorials.
“Last year, ... I saw this video of viral spray paint,” said Jaden. “I thought, I have spray paint, let me try. Why don’t I do a soccer ball floating through space, because I like soccer? I was looking for painting tutorials because I wanted to do something else, and then I stumbled upon this.”
“I like YouTube because he gets to choose what he wants to watch,” said Walter. “Sure, some of it is just hilarious and off-the-wall ... but a lot of it for him I find very educational.”
Jaden critiques his work as he describes it, able to pull from the collection of his work to show his first painting, his second, his third.
“That was his first one there, and I saw it, and oh, I’m not so sure if that’s the right way,” said Walter. “You don’t have to listen to your father, you can tell your father to skedaddle, and luckily he didn’t and he quickly improved and as I saw the improvement, I said, there’s a lot of street performers that do this. He was watching an artist from Italy do a Roman coliseum, so I said to him, look, if you’re interested and you want to do a little show in Toronto, if you can do 50 of them, then I’ll take you to Toronto.”
“Then I kept going,” said Jaden. “My dad said if I make 50, I get to go to Toronto and spray paint in front of the Eaton’s Centre. The first day, I racked up 15. ‘This is going to be an early trip,’ my dad said. I did 15 in a day. Then I did seven the next day.”
“We went in September,” said Walter. “He started this in the summer and did quite well in the summer and then we went to Toronto, and boy was he nervous there. Once he got started he was fine. There were a couple of times where he went, enough, and then he did a couple more.”
In one year, Jaden sold more than 50 paintings. Despite that success, he said there’s more he wants to learn, more he wants to do – he’ll need a range of nozzles and different equipment, which he can purchase with the money he’s making that he isn’t investing in the stock market.
Lately, Jaden is fully self-motivated to draw, and he flips through sketchbooks that travel with him to and from school. How does he decide what to draw?
“I just look at something that’s interesting,” he said. “I don’t have a phone. I wanted to draw. I was kind of bored.”
Each page shows something else that has caught Jaden’s interest: a toy out of a Kinder egg, a feather, his dad’s coffee, his dad’s shoe, his neck comforter on a plane, even the front of the sketchbook he’s using. His dad challenges him to try new techniques and the two gently rib each other about whose work is better, but Jaden also draws whenever, and sometimes wherever, he is. One drawing is of a reindeer.
“It was on the bus, and there were kids watching me, and they were little so they probably didn’t want me to draw something scary so I drew something cute,” he explained.
“My theory is that, Picasso’s great, every child can be an artist, but Jaden’s found his own little passion and direction,” said Walter. “That’s the neat part that I really like.”
“Most kids have this quote, what you want to do, you can do,” said Jaden. “If you try hard enough, you can reach it ... Most of the kids say that, most of the kids who want to get to their goal. I just want to have fun in my life, and I just want to draw.”
Though summer is here and Jaden is likely to be up the road playing with friends, his work is on display at The Carving Gallery at 8995 Hwy 35. Call 705-454-1701 for more information.