It's common in the Whaley house to walk in and see dining room furniture pushed aside and art supplies strewn across the dinner table. Paint is drying on a large cloth pinned to the wall, and colored-pencil portraits are scattered throughout the living room, creating a small gallery.
For Sloane Whaley, 20, creating art is a talent she has embraced since age 4.
"Mom is used to coming in and the dining room being moved over," Whaley said, grinning. "I try to get a lot done in a day, but then I will leave it alone and come back to it."
A rising sophomore at Appalachian State, she has consistently used her art to raise money for causes she embraces. Her latest: a portrait of Esperanza Spalding donated to the American Heart Association Ball that brought in more than $750 for the cause.
While in high school at Northwest School of the Arts, Whaley made her senior exit project a display of about 40 pieces at Providence Art Gallery, which were sold to aid Women for Women International. The $1,000 collected went to help girls in Africa who had been victims of tribal rape, she said.
"What you see in Sloane's work is a natural ability. Her art comes from within," said Debbie Baff, owner of Providence Art Gallery in Myers Park.
Whaley said she typically creates musically inspired pieces, and her style tends to be distorted realism.
Her favorite piece is "Ethan," a portrait that took 2 1/2 years to create in high school, inspired by a musically talented friend. Whaley said she has received offers up to $1,500 for it, but "he has never been for sale."
Whaley has dabbled in hobbies like softball and music, and is now interested in medicine.
"I'm so proud of her because she fights through things," said her mother, Reba Whaley. "From a parent's point of view, that's just really nice."
While Whaley is taking art courses at Appalachian, her major is biology, and she is on a pre-med track with plans to become a plastic surgeon or medical examiner.
As for her advice to beginning artists? "Don't be scared to put stuff down. You can always go back and redo it."