Seasoned artists help new artists at Olathe Arts Festival

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OLATHE, Kan. --Thousands of people soaked up Sunday's perfect weather along with with great artwork at the downtown Olathe Arts Festival.  What's unique to an art event of this caliber -- how seasoned artists are supporting some fledglings in the field.

Nancy Rourke is an artist who also happens to be deaf.  But the hardship she has in living without hearing shapes the story spread across her canvas.

"So many hearing people don't know much about deaf art.  It's time to expose them.  Time to spread out and get our art out into the public," she told FOX 4 News through signing.

Rourke was one of nine deaf artists at the festival.  There are also many artists with disabilities and about a dozen young artists, which are all rarities to a juried art event.

"I painted the silhouette of a wolf in water color," said Skyler Pippen.

Seventeen-year-old Pippen just graduated from Olathes' Choices Alternative High School.  As a part of the emerging artists program, he's paired with a career artist who serves as a mentor.  It's given him confidence and a goal for the future.

"I love it.  I never thought I could paint.  When I did this I fell in love with it.  I really do want to paint," Pippen said.

"I've been telling him this is something you can do.  People make art and enjoy it and sell it and people want to buy it.  It's fun, exciting and honorable," Tina Sollars, an art educator, explained.

Aspiring artists got a free booth at the festival next to the processionals.  They were treated like everybody else, so they can get their feet wet.

Halley Sellmeyer, an artist at the ripe old age of five, was already learning some laying techniques with her seascapes.

"I sprinkled real sand on the paint and they dried and it stuck together," she said.

Because Sellmeyer isn't famous yet, her master pieces are only priced at $20 each.  She will spend the money she makes as a young artist on more paints and a few toys.

But older emerging artists are banking on a future of making money -- doing what they love.

"It's neat to show them that its possible," Sollars said.

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