Photo by Sarah Whiting
Photo by Sarah Whiting

How did 14-year-old Fina Mooney become a national and international award-winning artist?

“My parents encouraged me to try new things, and see what I liked about myself, and what I wanted to do. We liked to go to art museums and look at giant figure paintings. I loved it so much. I would go there all the time and just stare at the paintings,” says Mooney.

She and her family started looking for art classes when she was five. Many classes for her age group were not what she wanted. “They were more on the crafty side of things, building with clay. It wasn’t traditional, academic, or really learning how to draw and paint. I told my parents that it wasn’t enough for me. I really wanted to learn how to be great.”

Her parents found the Art Academy in St. Paul, which offers a series of apprentice programs in technical skills. “Now I’m at four classes,” Mooney says. “I love being here all the time.”

In 2017, Mooney received a summer scholarship, from a competition for adults, that sent her to Italy.

“It’s one of the most magical places you can go,” she reminisced. “It really inspired me. After I got home, all I wanted to do was paint and draw.”

She credits her parents for not discouraging her from life as an artist. “They were buying materials and taking me to class. I have a really special family.

My parents are extremely supportive.

“I also do workshops outside of the Art Academy, and come back and talk about what I learned there and how I can apply it to what I do here.”

Her mother, Jennifer Mooney, has tips about how to support a child’s goals. She believes “it is vital to open doors. It doesn't have to take money and lessons to expose the world to them. There are so many free events. You never know what will spark that desire.”

She also believes in self-advocacy. “My mantra to my girls has always been to just ask, because if people say 'no,' it's the same answer you would have gotten if you didn't ask.”

Says the younger Mooney, “Right now I want to learn as much as I can. I am still seeking out my voice as an artist, but I love representational art and I would love to create large masterworks. I will slowly become who I am and who I want to be.”



Find Fina Mooney’s art on Instagram @Art_Fina1