8-Year-Old Artist Surprises Aunt With Painted Portrait That Earned Finalist Spot in an Art Competition

The love of an aunt is something truly special. As the saying goes, they give hugs like a mother, keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend. That's why they can be their niece's and nephew's favorite person. An 8-year-old named Lenny McNaughton certainly took inspiration from his beloved Aunt Steph; he entered an art contest with a portrait of her. The Australia-based budding artist decided to keep his painting a secret and finally show it to her when the time was right. Well, the painting wound up being a finalist in the Young Archie competition and exhibited alongside the prestigious Archibald Prize show. There was no better time to reveal his homage to her.

Lenny decided to give his aunt a tour of the exhibit, without making any mention of his piece. In a video posted to Instagram, Aunt Steph can be seen exploring the gallery with her little nephew. As she begins to browse the wall, she notices a particular work of art. “That looks like me,” she exclaims and stops to read the description. “What? That is me!” and immediately takes her hands to her face in shock. “Lenny did it,” she is told, as the 8-year-old cheekily approaches her with a smile. The two then embrace, as something even more amazing is revealed.

“He's the finalist! He's been chosen as a finalist!” the woman recording the video reveals, as Lenny proudly points to the information card beside his work. “‘Auntie Steph is a very favorite person because she makes my day brighter,'” she reads aloud. “‘She makes everything fun. Auntie Steph grows her own sunflowers in her backyard [and] gives them to people to make them happy. She's a beautiful person inside and out.'” Deeply touched, the aunt embraces her nephew once more.

Though Lenny didn't win the competition overall, his painting showcases his extraordinary talent. Some are even calling him “Van Gogh Jr.” The composition of the avant-garde piece features elements of abstraction, like those found in Cubism and Impressionism, while still keeping key objects recognizable—e.g. Aunt Steph's hat and her sunflowers. The whole piece comes alive with a bright color palette that pays tribute to her cheerful personality.

Though this is an incredible feat of artistry for such a young child, it is far from Lenny’s first project. He is already a very prolific artist. Despite his age, he's technically a professional, since he has paying patrons who have purchased his colorful paintings. You can stay up to date with this talented child artist by following him on Instagram.

Lenny McNaughton, an 8-year-old artist, entered an art contest with a portrait of his beloved Aunt Steph but decided to keep it a secret.

When his work was featured in an exhibition as a finalist, Lenny decided to give his aunt a tour and surprise her.

Aunt Steph’s reaction was priceless. Upon finding the portrait on the wall, she immediately said, “That looks like me…What? That is me!”

Lenny McNaughton: Instagram
h/t: [Reddit]

Related Articles:

6-Year-Old Is Told Her Painting Is “Wrong” by Teacher, So the Internet Steps in to Uplift Her

Creative Crafter Transforms Kid’s Drawings Into Crochet Dolls They Can Cuddle

German DIY Store Ad Has Unexpectedly Sweet Reminder About Parents Supporting Their Kids

40 Gifts for Kids That Playfully Promote Their Creative Minds

Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content