11-year-old painter displays heart art in Solana Beach gallery

Isabella Thorn
Brittany Woolsey

Exclusive Collections Gallery's (EC Gallery) latest featured artist may just be 11 years old, but she's got a lot of heart.

Isabella Thorn presents "Bella Hearts," a display of 50 original paintings, at EC Gallery, which is owned by her mother.

The work is on display throughout the month of February, and a portion of the proceeds from the show go to support international orphan and animal shelters.

The sixth grader at The Museum School, an arts-focused school in Banker's Hill, began painting hearts at age 3, when her grandmother, a painter, taught her about art.

Shortly after, while still a tot, Isabella got her first taste of her own art show.

"My mom used to order these little glass hearts for Valentine's Day displays," she explained. "One year, she forgot them and started panicking. My grandma said we would make some canvases with hearts. ... From what I remember, I wanted to help out and my grandma let me. I started painting, mom brought them into the gallery and people started wanting to really buy them."

Isabella Thorn and Ruth-Ann Thorn
Isabella Thorn and Ruth-Ann Thorn Brittany Woolsey

The Mission Hills girl has sold more than 600 paintings since she was 3, according to her mother.

When she was 6, the American Heart Association recruited her to become a featured child artist for the organization. Isabella explained that some proceeds from her paintings are donated to the nonprofit.

"I feel like in some small way, I'm helping people with my art," the girl said.

Isabella has also been featured in the association's Go Red events, where she'll sell her paintings and paint live. The next event is scheduled for Feb. 28 at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar.

Isabella, who has also recently picked up sketching and drawing, said she's attracted to creating heart art because of what they symbolize and how they can make people feel.

"This collection is based on emotions, feelings and nature," she said. "Those are kind of always my driving factors in how I paint. ... They really open people's hearts, and I think they can heal a lot of people, which is one of the reasons why I paint these hearts."

Isabella Thorn
Artwork by Isabella Thorn Brittany Woolsey

Ruth-Ann Thorn, Isabella's mother and the owner of EC Gallery, said her daughter has a "really good sensibility when it comes to color and texture."

"You look at all these, and they're well thought through and include colors you wouldn't think go together," the mother said. "I also think the subject matter of the heart is universal. Anybody from any country or any religion or background can look at the heart and know it symbolizes love."

Isabella said while the arts can be thought of as a hobby for children, her peers shouldn't dismiss the idea of pursuing it professionally.

"To anyone who feels apprehensive, I just want them to know their art is just as important and just as amazing as anyone else's," she said. "Everyone has their own perception, but if someone wants to not take you seriously, you just have to show them that you are serious about your art and that you really care about what you're doing."

For more information, visit EC Gallery is located at 212 S Cedros Ave., #104, Solana Beach, 92075. (800) 599-7111.