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Little artists, big hearts

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Two students at Queen of Apostles School in Alexandria are making their mark in the art world. Alexia de Costa, a fifth-grader, and her brother David, a second-grader, are two of the school's most accomplished artists and have both won national art contests this year.

From an early age, the siblings' mutual love for creating has been encouraged by their parents, Alfred and Sandra de Costa. To help their children explore and enjoy their God-given talents, the couple created an art room in the family's house where the two spend time drawing together.

According to their parents, both children are creative in their own ways. Alexia is expressive in her work and especially enjoys seeing her creations come to life using beautiful, vibrant colors. Some of her inspiration comes from the paintings of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and from her favorite saint, John Paul II, an enthusiastic patron of the arts.

David is more contemplative and methodical about his artwork. His designs are carefully thought out. He will only draw after exploring several ideas and deciding what will give the work the life and expression he desires.

Alexia's artistic debut came in second grade when her design was selected for the school yearbook cover. Since then, her work has been on the cover twice, including this year's piece that features a beautiful portrait of the Virgin Mary. Her 2015 design showed her growing skills for portraiture when she incorporated the faces of Principal Kathy Littlefield, Fathers Leopoldo Vives and Juan Espino in the design. Soon word of Alexia's talent spread like wildfire, and friends and family began emailing her parents with art contest opportunities.

After entering a number of contests, she won her first national prize in May 2015 with a depiction of the Holy Family traveling to Bethlehem. The piece was selected by the Missionary Childhood Association from thousands of entries from elementary and middle school students, and was put on display at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington during the Christmas season.

This March, her artwork was selected as the official design for the White House Easter Egg Roll poster contest. To celebrate the achievement, Alexia and her family were invited to the White House and had photos taken with the president and first lady.

"It was awesome, they were really nice," said Alexia.

Alexia's success has been an inspiration to David. She encourages him and he learns a lot from his big sister, who recently helped him learn how to draw trees and a variety of animals.

According to his parents, David is more comfortable using electronic media for his creations. When he does pick up a pencil, however, his favorite thing to draw is houses, including God's house.

David has become known for his art on the school Christmas card and on the Christmas play program cover.

He won his first national contest this April with a first place in his age group for the "Try Prayer! It Works!" contest. The annual art competition, hosted by Family Rosary Ministry, encourages students to express their faith through art, poetry and prose. Both siblings placed in their age groups with David taking home $100 and an additional prize for his school. Alexia won third place in her age group and received a copy of the "Life of Christ" DVD series.

While both Alexia and David have been blessed with natural gifts, they also are filled with the spiritual gifts of humility and compassion for others. They are quick to see the artistic potential in their fellow classmates and tell them to "never give up" when it comes to drawing and creating.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016