Katelyn Lowe, 15, works on another watercolor painting Thursday she will offer on Katelyn's Art of Giving Facebook page. The Caledonia High School sophomore doesn't put a price on her paintings. Anyone can purchase one for whatever they are willing to donate. Proceeds benefit three different charities. Katelyn is the daughter of Melinda and Jeff Lowe of Columbus. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
Katelyn's mother, Melinda Lowe, is pictured Thursday with some of her daughter's paintings. The Mississippi design is proving popular. Katelyn can create designs for other states as well.
Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
Katelyn Lowe has several designs celebrating her home state.
Photo by: Courtesy photo
"I really like to do the hand-lettering," said Katelyn, who uses Sharpies for those projects.
Photo by: Courtesy photo
This gator and whale are examples of the personalized paintings Katelyn creates for children’s rooms.
Photo by: Courtesy photos
October 14, 2017 10:06:26 PM
Katelyn Lowe may not be old enough to hold a driver's license yet, but she's mature enough to know the value of giving, rather than taking. That's a lesson many much older still haven't mastered.
Fifteen-year-old Katelyn, a sophomore at Caledonia High School, has come up with a creative twist on supporting three charities she cares about -- Catch-a-Dream Foundation, Imagination Library of Lowndes County and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Katelyn paints. Palm trees, Northern Lights, lobsters, lazy gators, cotton bolls, bulldogs, whimsical sailboats -- anything and everything. Katelyn paints them all, then offers her work on the Katelyn's Art of Giving Facebook page that went active just this past Tuesday night. By about midday Wednesday, she already had takers for five or six paintings and commissions for more. The price? That's up to the buyer who, in this case, is actually a donor. Except for a small amount used to replenish supplies, all proceeds go to the three charities. Buyers can select which one their donation will benefit, or leave the distribution up to Katelyn.
"You can select a painting that's posted, or commission a special request," Katelyn explained. "I am not putting a price on my paintings. It's up to you how much you want to donate. No donation is too small!"
Do unto others
This giving spirit isn't new. When she was only 13 or so, Katelyn began making cupcakes to order.
"Sometimes people would give her a 'tip,' an extra $2, $5 or $10," said Melinda Lowe, Katelyn's mother. "She started giving that to St. Jude and Imagination Library." Katelyn said she had a good example to follow; she knew her parents gave to St. Jude.
"I've always really liked art, too, ever since I was really little," the high school sophomore said. She credits teachers she's had, like Nan Bolin at Joe Cook Fine Arts Magnet School and Nedra Mitchell at Caledonia, for inspiring her interest in art.
Katelyn's mother remarked, "She loves to watercolor, and we have an abundance of her paintings. She and I were talking a week or two ago and she started talking about selling some of them." The idea to "sell" them for charity quickly took root.
Most of the teen's painting is done on weekends; much of her week is devoted to not only schoolwork, but Beta Club, FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), Foreign Language Club and the Lowndes Young Leaders Program.
Katelyn's paintings are rendered on quality watercolor stock. Most are 9-by-12 or 11-by-15-inches. "I do some minis that are 5-by-5; I can do any size anyone wants."
Many of her designs on the Facebook page are reminiscent of the beach, but there are also mountains, animals, personalized children's paintings and hand-lettered pieces. One design shaping up to be a best-seller looks to be an outline of Mississippi decorated with cotton bolls, sunshine or other Magnolia State attributes. Katelyn can do them for other states as well.
Ashley Matthews of Columbus has already commissioned several paintings as Christmas gifts.
"On Facebook I noticed all the different things she does -- like a lobster with so many different shades of red and orange, and the Northern Lights that I thought was amazing."
The three causes Katelyn selected to support are important to her personally. She's volunteered to help with Imagination Library's Paddle Fest the past two years; that literacy-focused nonprofit sends monthly age-appropriate books to children under 5 in Lowndes County.
"Catch-a-Dream takes kids who have a life-threatening illness on super-cool hunting and fishing trips," Katelyn said. "My family are really big fishers and hunters."
St. Jude's work with children, of course, has always touched her heart. To date, Katelyn's family estimates she's raised about $550 for the charities. "We're off to a great start," said the painter's mom.
Matthews remarked, "I think one of the coolest things about this is that she picked charities that are meaningful to her, and she's going to allow her buyers to direct the funds to the charity they choose. I think just having that awareness of the community and the needs of others is quite remarkable for such a young lady."
When asked what truly inspires her desire to give, Katelyn became quiet. She finally answered, haltingly, and then emotionally.
"My mom and dad ... and Jesus ... My mom and dad are just so sweet and just such giving people, and I love them with all my heart. I go to church at Kolola Springs Baptist Church, and I love the people at my church. They've always been there for me, and my parents and brother have been, too. That's what makes me want to give back to people who need it, like I sometimes need it."
Editor's note: Visit facebook.com/KatelynsArtofGiving/ to see more Katelyn Lowe paintings or direct message her, or go to Instagram, @katelynsartofgiving.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.