Olivia Bennett is a 19-year-old nationally recognized art prodigy who found her unique visual gift after being diagnosed with cancer at age 5. Olivia’s story is an inspiring one of hope and healing, with her greatest gift discovered during her bleakest hours.
While battling leukemia, Olivia required more than two years of intense chemotherapy including numerous spinal taps. Her one and only respite from the pain, nausea, and vomiting was painting which she did for hours on end. Olivia’s artistic talent blossomed into a passion and now it is her full-time profession.
Olivia’s work received almost immediate critical acclaim. She sold her first painting at age 8 and had her first art show at age 10, where she sold 24 more paintings. Since then, Olivia’s status as an artist has taken on superstar proportions. She and her artwork have been featured in numerous magazines and newspaper articles, as well as appearing on television shows such as Oprah and the Today Show. Her colorful floral and wildlife paintings have even been compared with such masters as Georgia O’Keeffe and Claude Monet.
Olivia grew up in Southlake, Texas, where she was homeschooled through high school in a K-12 program offered by Texas Tech University. This allowed Olivia to concentrate on her art career, which is what she really wanted to do. She could “just drop everything and paint” whenever she was in the mood. Homeschooling also gave her freedom to travel which she loves to do.
As a cancer survivor, Olivia is dedicated to helping others who are suffering hardships whether it’s from illness, hunger, or poverty. She volunteers for the Mark Victor Hansen Foundation, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Junior League of Dallas, Children’s Cancer Fund, Cook Children’s Medical Center, Grapevine Relief And Community Exchange (GRACE), and Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. In 2003, Olivia was named “One of Twenty Teens Who Will Change the World” by Teen People Magazine.
Olivia’s story and artwork are featured in Mark Victor Hansen’s latest book, “The Richest Kids in America.” Mark is the co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series. This fall she will be accompanying him on his “Richest Kids in America” book tour. Olivia’s artwork is also featured in a book by Lisa Young called “Inspiration For Women Who Change the World.” Olivia’s own 96-page art book, “A Life in Full Bloom,” chronicles how her childhood leukemia led to her art.
When asked how she handles criticism, Olivia answers, “Everyone has their own taste. I have paintings I prefer over others. Everyone has their opinion. There are some works I appreciate, but I would never want to own. We’re all entitled to have our own opinions. A lot of times, I take criticism if it’s some other artist. I’ll look at it and take it into consideration. I’m still young, and there are people with a lot more experience. It’s how you learn.”
Visit Olivia’s official website at http://www.oliviabennett.com to view an online gallery of her paintings.