SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Colorful canvases surround Bria Neff as she sits on her paint-splattered stool.
This is where the 12-year-old creates.
“I always loved painting and I loved animals so I started drawing when I was four and I started painting when I was eight,” 12-year-old artist Bria Neff said.
You’ll find animals in a majority of her work.
“I like animals because without animals there is no us so we need to protect animals and our planet,” Neff said.
From tigers to turtles, naming all the animals she’s tried her hand at is difficult.
“I’ve painted cheetahs, king cheetahs, wolves, pangolins, which actually are the most trafficked animals in the world, and I’ve painted lots more,” Neff said.
The ideas Bria brings to life with her brushes and bottles of paint aren’t just something pretty to look at.
You see, she’s using her talent to put endangered species in the spotlight.
The money she makes selling her paintings goes to organizations that help protect animals.
In fact, she sold a painting for $15,000 in New York that benefitted the Wolf Conservation Center.
Kelli Volk: What’s it like to see your paintings somewhere like New York or D.C.?
Neff: It’s really amazing to see how far I got….like how I started out small and I got this far already.
Overall, she’s generated more than $36,000 through her art.
This year, one of Bria’s paintings went for $700 at Paws to Celebrate, which is the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
“I was really surprised and happy that it went for that much,” Neff said.
That money will go a long way for the furry faces at the humane society.
“It’s going to be used for vaccinations, for microchips, for spay and neuters, if there’s a special kind of diet food they need to go towards that, it will go towards bedding,” SFAHS Special Events Coordinator Allison Kolander-Wyant said.
Bria’s paintings have been auctioned off at the event the past couple of years.
“To be supported by people in the community, as small as a 12-year-old who does incredible paintings way better than I ever could, that’s a huge thing,” Kolander-Wyant said.
As Bria continues creating different creatures in her art room, she wants other kids to take a page out of her sketchbook.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can start small and then you can go bigger and bigger and you can make a change in the world,” Neff said.
No matter how old you are, anyone can master the art of making a difference.
Bria also uses her online platforms to educate people on endangered species.