Fifteen-year-old Aiden Paez is Taking the Art World by Storm
Written byHadley Hall Meares
Photographed byMonica Orozco
Evocative, still-life paintings in muted neutral colors … elegant landscapes of a summer storm or a field of tall grass. These works of art are simple, refined and haunting—and they’re painted by a 15-year-old boy.
Aiden Paez, a self-taught painter whose work is reminiscent of one of his favorite artists, Andrew Wyeth, showed talent early in life with sketching.
“Everywhere we went he was carrying a sketchbook,” mom Karen Emile recalls. “I knew he had a gift, but it wasn’t until we would go places and he would have that sketchbook, and someone would say, ‘Oh, let me see. What are you sketching over there?’ And Aiden would pop out his little sketchbook, and I remember people’s reaction: ‘You didn’t make this.’ I was like, ‘Yo, that’s what he does!’”
For Aiden, who is now in 10th grade, art has long been a calming and centering activity. “I’ve always enjoyed drawing animals. I went through a bit of a character phase, which was when I did Snoop Dogg and a lot of others,” he says. “I’m trying to get more into portraits now, but most of my paintings are landscapes or interiors of houses.”
It was at the start of the pandemic that Aiden began painting on canvas, experimenting with the artistic method he liked best. “I started with acrylics. Now I pretty much just use oils. I like it a lot more,” he says. “It dries a lot slower, and I had a lot of problems covering large canvases with acrylic, because an area would dry while I’m trying to fill out the rest of that area. It made it more difficult, and the paint would just ruin the canvas.”
Karen, who runs the popular interior design-focused Instagram account @milkandhoneylife, started sharing some of Aiden’s pieces. Almost immediately she started getting inquiries from other design accounts as well as local interior designer Amber Lewis, owner of Amber Interiors. People started buying Aiden’s pieces. Then actress Glenn Close bought one and posted a video about it on her IG account.
“People became intrigued by his art and it took on a life of its own,” shares Karen.
Karen and Aiden created the Instagram account
@throughaidenseyes to show the artist’s works, and today there is a wait list for commissioned pieces.
On a typical day Aiden can be found in the garage of his family’s light-filled, cheery SoCal home, where he works two to three hours at a stretch, often to the befuddlement of his friends. “Friends in high school, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh and you make money,’” he says. “‘Like, what are you doing having a job? We’re not even 18 yet.’”
He is currently working on a commissioned streetscape of a Brooklyn brownstone, which he is painting in a style evocative of Vermeer. “It’s calming, usually,” Aiden says. “Sometimes it’s work—trying to get all the details—because I have to be really focused. I usually use noise canceling headphones or something so I can focus on just the painting to try and get everything exact.”
As for his early success as a commissioned artist, Aiden says he didn’t see it coming.
“I thought it took very expensive materials and years of practice to make anything that anyone would think worthy of paying for. However, people were willing to take a chance on me and believe in my natural gift and ability, which really surprised me. It made me want to work harder.”