THE WASHINGTON POST – Arsh Pal had bold ambitions when he started selling his art at age eight: He wanted to raise $1,000 for charity.
Four years later, he has far exceeded his goal. Arsh, now 12, has sold hundreds of his acrylic and watercolor paintings, with proceeds totaling over US$15,000.
Other than a small portion he takes to buy supplies, every dollar has gone to charities that support children.
“Young people have the power to change the world,” Arsh said from his home in Dubuque, Iowa, which is also his art studio.
Arsh has always had a fondness for art, his mother said. When he was a young boy, Divya Pal and her husband, Sanjeev, enrolled their son in extracurricular activities such as piano, karate and gymnastics, but “he leaned towards art,” Pal said.
For his eighth birthday present, the Pals bought a set of watercolors for Arsh. He spent all his free time in front of an easel. “That’s how I started painting,” he says.
Soon a pile of finished canvases started piling up, “so I decided to give them away to friends and family,” Arsh said, adding that he had also exhibited some of the pieces at his school, which people were asking to buy.
Around the same time, Arsh was frequently visiting a local nursing home, where his mother works as an occupational therapist. Spending time there inspired him to start selling his art for a good cause. “Just talking to the residents and the people there, it made them smile and it really made me smile at the same time,” he said. “This thought made me want to help people in need through my paintings.”
Thus began his fundraising initiative, which he called “Art by Arsh”. He sells his paintings at local art shows, restaurants, and libraries, as well as on his Instagram account and Facebook page.
He donated his first $1,000 to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2018 and has since expanded his reach to support various other charities including Easterseals, Compass to Care, the Riverview Center and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Arsh primarily contributes to child-focused organizations, he said, because “I wanted to help children.”
Although he stopped counting a long time ago, Arsh said he estimates he has sold around 500 paintings in the past four years.
The price of his work, he explained, varies according to size and complexity. For example, small pieces have sold for $10, while larger paintings – which can reach five feet – have sold for $800. He auctioned off two pieces at a charity event last fall for a total of $10,000.
“It’s very impressive,” Pal said, adding that she and her husband were blown away by their son’s commitment to the project. “He does an incredible job. When he first started doing all of this, we never thought it would go in this direction.
Arsh primarily uses acrylic paint to produce his art, but he also works with watercolor and mixed media.
He particularly enjoys creating abstract pieces.
“You can express yourself through abstract art,” he said. “Everyone thinks differently about it.”
Today, Arsh mainly makes commissioned pieces, and many of his customers have come back for more.
This includes his neighbor, Jolene Schaver, who has five of Arsh’s designs hanging in her home and has purchased many more for friends and family.
“I can’t stress enough how amazing he is,” said Schaver, who is retired and lives next door with her husband, and has known the Pal family for seven years.
“I was amazed at how talented he was at such a young age, without any formal training.”
Additionally, she added, “He has such a generous, generous heart.”
Arsh’s artwork is scattered around their home and Schaver’s favorite piece is a silhouette of two elephants, which is displayed in his dining room.
“I would never know it was done by a child,” she said.
Arsh aims to be detail-oriented in his art, and larger pieces can take a month or more to complete. Although Arsh never took art lessons as a child, “my mother helped me,” he said.
“She’s probably my homeroom teacher. Me and her are learning techniques together. She just helps me get better.
Pal and her husband also manage the logistics of Arsh’s initiative. They coordinate with customers, take care of shipping and supplies, and ensure that all funds go to charities chosen by Arsh.
“It’s a team effort, but it’s worth it,” Pal said. “We want to support him, especially if he helps someone.”
“He never asked us if he could keep the money,” she continued, adding that his peers asked Arsh why he didn’t buy himself expensive new gadgets and toys with his hard-earned funds. .
“He’s not impacted by what other people say, he impacts other people with what he does.”
He has received several accolades for his community service, including the Diana Award in 2022 – which is given annually to a group of young people from around the world for their humanitarian work. “I feel very honoured,” Arsh said.
The organizations he has supported are also grateful for his contributions.
“I am always so encouraged to see the enthusiasm of a child who wants to do what they can to help other children in need,” said ALSAC President and CEO Richard C Shadyac Jr. , the fundraising and awareness organization for St Jude.
“Children like Arsh are helping to raise funds to ensure families are never billed by St Jude for treatment, travel, accommodation or food, so they can focus on their child’s life. “