An idea popped into the head of 4-year-old Jaiden Latsko as he watched the movie "Curly Sue." Why not sell his paintings to buy toys?
Janae Latsko thought her son was demonstrating characteristics of a budding entrepreneur, but she didn't understand his plan.
"I want to buy toys for kids who don't have a home -- like Curly Sue," he explained to his mother.
The Ross boy said he noticed the homeless heroine of the 1991 film -- that begins with a scam that she and her partner pull on a rich woman who gives them a taste of luxury -- had one beloved ring but no toys.
Now three weeks into their project, the Latskos have sold more than $300 worth of the child's canvas acrylic paintings, mostly through a Facebook page. His work is priced between $20 and $40, depending on size. He also makes personalized pieces by allowing customers to request colors.
"He paints whatever comes to him," Mrs. Latsko said. "He'll just draw crazy shapes and do splotches of color. Then he looks at it and tells me what it is."
Among pieces sold thus far to friends, family and complete strangers, are "Caterpillars In The Rain," "Rain Dude" and "The Zoo," as well as a series of personalized works.
Mrs. Latsko started a nonprofit organization, Art For Others, with Jaiden as CEO, in order to make all contributions tax deductible. She plans to donate sale proceeds to a nonprofit benefitting children, such as The Children's Institute and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Her goal is to raise $5,000 with $1 from every sale going toward supplies.
"As long as he wants to paint, we will keep it up and running," she said.
Jaiden's work has been inspirational for a class of preschoolers at All Kids Are Special Learning Center in New Kensington.
Their teacher, Rebecca Knapp, heard about the project and ordered a piece with red, white and blue colors that now hangs in their classroom.
"I wanted to have a painting in the classroom to tell the kids that a little boy who is only 4 can make a difference," Mrs. Knapp said. "Hopefully that will help them when we do little fundraisers for our community."
Mrs. Knapp said her students were impressed that the piece, titled "A Flag," was done by such a small boy and wanted to paint their own art after seeing his.
Nicknamed "Poo" by his mother, the youngster has been dubbed "Poo-casso" by some of his family members. And like most artists, famous or fledgling, he struggles to maintain focus some days.
On a recent afternoon at his home, the preschooler's tongue protruded between his lips as he painted the corners of a canvas black and added streaks of blue -- his favorite color -- pink and green. The Laurie Berkner Band's song "Bring Your Clothes" played on a child-like iPad and he occasionally raised his hands in the air and bobbed his head. It was his second piece of the afternoon, a follow-up to a canvas consisting of circles and pops of color that he titled "Our World."
His attention span instantaneously snapped and he dropped his paintbrush on the palette before running from the kitchen table in search of toys -- his first love.
The brown-haired little boy emerged a few seconds later with two sets of Marvel characters that he received for his birthday.
He giggled each time the toys crashed together.
Earlier he was eager to show off a castle and dragon he received for Christmas.
When asked why the money should go toward toys instead of food or clothing, he answer is simple: Kids need toys.
To view Jaiden's latest works or to connect with Mrs. Latsko for a personalized piece: www.facebook.com/ArtForOthers.
Donations can be made out to Art For Others and sent to Art For Others, P.O. Box 11012, Pittsburgh, PA 15237.
Taryn Luna: 412-263-1985 or firstname.lastname@example.org.