Hyde youngster is accomplished artist

Published 6:34 pm Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

A love for nature and a talent for painting are helping a Hyde County youngster make a name for himself in the art world.
Richard Mann IV, who lives in Fairfield and attends Pungo Christian Academy in Belhaven, is becoming pretty well-known locally for his wildlife paintings and rural landscapes. He paints what he knows best.
“I’ve always lived around it,” said the 9-year-old son of Lee and Shelly Mann.
According to his mom, Mann began coloring at a very early age. Richard Mann Jr., his grandfather and unofficial agent/promoter, is awed by the young fellow’s talent.
“He was coloring inside the lines when he was only 2 years old,” the elder Mann said. “My other grandchildren were eating the crayons at that age.”
Donna Johnson, the younger Mann’s kindergarten teacher at PCA, noticed that the youngster had a talent for art and suggested to his parents that he take private lessons.
That’s when Washington artist Pat Boyd entered the picture. For the past three years, the younger Mann has been enrolled in weekly, one-on-one sessions with Boyd at her studio.
“Richard is a great student. He’s a sweet kid and he knows a lot about animals,” Boyd said. “I asked him one time how he knew so much about wildlife and he said, ‘Ms. Pat, I am from Hyde County.’ I laughed and laughed at that.”
Along with the two-hour sessions with Boyd, the younger Mann enjoys drawing and painting at home and at school. His hard work has paid off with a state-level first place award in the Junior Duck Stamp competition.
He also received a first place ribbon in a show hosted by the Effie Raye Arts Society in Belhaven. Prints of his work have been auctioned for Pungo Christian Academy and Hyde County’s Relay for Life, and most recently he donated two prints to benefit the Hyde County Waterfowl Association. The association’s board opted to give the funds back to the younger Mann for his college fund.
In fact, all the monies raised through the sale of the prints are being put into a special fund for his college education.
“Granddaddy gets the credit for all of that,” Shelly Mann said.
“Last year, we decided to make prints and offer them to people in the county for sale,” Richard Mann Jr. said. “We started out with 12 and now we’re up to 16 different scenes. We also have packs of notecards with two each of six designs.”
The prints are especially desirable since young Richard Mann’s mom is adamant that his original paintings remain in the family.
“He made a card for a friend earlier this year, and his friend told his mom, ‘Don’t tell Ms. Shelly, but I’ve got one of Richard’s originals,’” Shelly Mann said with a laugh. “But if he wants to sell them when he gets old enough to make that decision, I’ll let him do that.”
The prints are currently available through Richard Mann Jr. (he can be reached at 252-926-4921), as well as at O’Neal’s Gift Shop in Belhaven, Chocowinity Pharmacy, Historic Bath Visitors Center and Harris Seafood in Fairfield. Each print is named, signed and numbered; the age of the artist at the time each piece was painted is also included.
Although an aunt and a couple of cousins dabble in art, the younger Mann is the only one in his immediate family with that interest and talent. His siblings are Wyatt, BoLee, Alex, Demock, Brittany and Tyler.
When he’s not busy with school and his burgeoning art career, the younger Mann enjoys hunting and fishing and is active with Hyde County 4-H, raising and showing goats. His family’s farm is a virtual zoo; in addition to the goats, they have peacocks, quail, cows, chickens, rabbits, ducks, horses, dogs and cats.
“He’d have a rattlesnake if I’d let him,” Shelly Mann said.