Christopher Abella's hands glide the pencil across the paper without a hint of hesitancy.
The 11-year-old is indifferent to the two dozen people hovering over him, applauding. He draws yet another of his fashion design sketches.
Asked when he first started drawing, the South Miami K-8 Center student responded:
"As soon as I was able to hold a pencil."
His mother, Lissette Abella, said that was when he was about 2 years old. At the age of 7, he started to draw fashion design sketches.
In less than 10 minutes, a long-legged, narrow-waisted female form clad in an evening gown appears on the sheet of paper. A shawl drapes over her extended right arm, swirls around her neck and trickles down her relaxed left arm.
It was all part of the grand opening of his third solo art exhibition, which is currently on display at the Doral Conservatory and School of the Arts in Miami, Fla. About 50 of his fashion design sketches will be showcased.
Asian-inspired outfits on models with dramatically long eyelashes, elegantly flowing gowns and oversized coats narrowed at the waist with beaded belts are just part of Christopher's collection.
"I just come up with it," Christopher said referring to his fashion design sketches drawn with No. 2 pencils, sharpies and Prismacolor markers.
He said he draws inspiration from early 20th century French designers Erte and Christian Dior, and from Italian fashion designer Valentino.
He sketches about four times a week and he said he enjoys it just as much as playing baseball and watching TV.
Aside from attending the art magnet at South Miami K-8 Center, Christopher takes a weekly class at the Doral Conservatory and School of the Arts where he has studied graphite pencil, color pencils, soft pastels and ink. He also takes a one-hour fashion design study class with Tracy Ellyn, a fashion designer of nearly 30 years, who worked at 7th Avenue Fashion Design Inc. in New York City.
In addition to teaching him the industry standards in fashion design sketching, Ellyn also gives Christopher a book from a particular artist, designer or culture. He studies it for a week and then designs his own collection drawing only inspiration from the book.
The Doral Conservatory exhibition also features a dress based on one of his sketches. Christopher, who lives in Kendall, Fla., has never personally made one of his sketches into an actual dress but he closely supervises seamstresses during the process.
"I told the lady like where to put the stuff. In the back, I told her like with the strap over here how I want it," he explained, pointing to the crisscrossing straps in the back of the champagne-green, knee-length dress.
Christopher, who hopes to one day attend the Design Architecture Senior High School in Miami and then to complete his education at Parsons The New School For Design in New York, is in the process of learning how to cut and sew fabric himself.
Christopher has participated in 10 art exhibitions and he has had three solo ones. The New Professions Technical Institute in Coral Gables will host his fourth solo exhibition."What I admire about him is his humbleness," said Daylis Toledo, who went to the exhibition with her family and goes to the same church as the Abellas. "At such a young age to be able to do this, it's a gift from God."