Young and illustrious

Artist Talia Guastavino may only be 7 but her abstract-expressionist works are growing in popularity.

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted March 17, 2023 | By Julie Garisto 

Mentor E.J. Nieves poses with young artist Talia Guastavino next to her painting, “The Kingdom.”

Talia Guastavino began creating eye-catching, dreamlike paintings on canvas when her classmates began learning the alphabet. 

Now 7, she began painting professionally last year. 

She showed talent as young as age 3, when she finger-painted. Not long after that, she copied an illustration of “a little guy” that a friend sent in the mail and shocked her mom with how well-drawn the picture was. 

“I was so impressed,” Claudia Guastavino said. “I said, baby, you love to do this, and she said, ‘Yes, Mama, I love to paint and draw!” 

Claudia and Talia’s father, Javier Guastavino, took their budding artist, the oldest of three girls, to a youth entrepreneurial event in Ocala last year to sell some of Talia’s work. 

District 2 school board member and artist Don Browning attended the event and took notice of Talia’s talent. At the same, artist and gallery owner E.J. Nieves introduced himself and tried to purchase the same painting. 

“Deep Sea”

Both artists would wind up having a big impact on young Talia’s blossoming career. 

“Ever since that event, people in the community who met Talia that day have been keeping in touch with us on social media,” Claudia said. 

Claudia, originally from Portugal, and Javier, whose parents are from Uruguay, met in New Jersey and moved to Ocala from Daytona Beach not long after Talia was born. Claudia owns a cleaning business and Javier manages Oxford Downs. 


“We loved how family-friendly this city is,” Talia’s mom said, praising Ocala and Talia’s school, Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary School. 

The Guastavinos continue to encourage their daughter and said they have allocated profits from her art to a college tuition fund. Talia enjoys painting abstract, expressionistic works, and displaying them at local festivals and other vendor events. Next year, the Guastavinos plan to auction her works to help the school fund its computer lab. 

“But we want to make sure she gets to be a kid and her life has balance, too,” Claudia stressed, emphasizing that she makes sure Talia takes long breaks from painting, so she doesn’t get tired of it. 

Talia is anything but tired. The young artist has helped her mom organize local art shows such as the first “Anything, Everything Art” event for artists age 1-18. It will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, at Lady of the Springs Catholic Church, 4047 NE 21st St. Ocala. 

As a working artist, Talia has already amassed effusive testimonials. Some say she shows the signs being of a born leader by helping her peers and giving encouragement and hugs. 

Elizabeth Rodriguez, the owner of Ellie’s Rico Dulces, said her son Jacob has been a friend of Talia’s since the two started attending karate classes together. The kids are in the same first-grade class at Jones Elementary. 

“The Wonderland”

The sweets-making mom owns an original work by Talia: a cake painting that hangs on her office wall. She described Talia as “spunky” and having a “bright personality.” 

“Talia is a very talented and inspiring young artist who is passionate about creating beautiful abstract paintings,” said longtime local artist Maggie Weakley, who encouraged Talia to paint with acrylics. 

Nieves, owner of NEHS Galleries, continues to be a mentor and praises Talia’s unique imagery. 

“Talia is most certainly an abstract expressionist,” he said. “Her work inspires me because you can tell that she is curious and adventurous within her art and is never afraid to take risks on the canvas.” 

What does the young painter want to be when she grows up? An architect, she told her mom. 

“I want to paint to make people smile and love art; art makes me happy,” she also said. 

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