About the Artist: Nancy Quiaoit

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist: Nancy Quiaoit

Growing up in the California foothills, Nancy Quiaoit was a natural artist. “Since I was a very young girl I’ve always expressed myself through painting and drawing,” she told us. Although she briefly pursued formal training, Nancy now describes herself as a self-taught artist. “I made this decision when I took a college art class. I didn’t enjoy the class or the restrictions it placed on my creative ideas.” The freedom expressed in her work is evidence that she made the right choice.

This month’s cover art is “The Mermaid Dance.” We asked Nancy why she paints so many mermaids, and why this one is “dancing” with dolphins: “I paint a lot of mermaids because I love women, the ocean and fantasy. Our oceans connect all life. The ocean is powerful yet fragile. I think women are like the ocean in many ways, too. They are strong, give life, can be playful and soft while still being a force of nature. I like to capture their playfulness and ability to nurture. I painted “The Mermaid Dance” after watching dolphins when I was visiting Hawaii. They were so playful and beautiful.” We’re glad you took that trip to Hawaii, Nancy!

About the Artist: Jessica Mingo

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist: Jessica Mingo

The work life of any artist can be chaotic at times, but things get especially interesting when motherhood is added to the mix. Jessica Mingo creates her bright, organic watercolors in her home studio, surrounded by her “three beautiful redheads.” Britta (7), Beck (6) and Hank (2 months) keep her on her toes. “Work time often becomes a mix of answering questions, changing diapers, cleaning up messes and breaking up squabbles,” but she assured us that it’s “all part of motherhood and a career as an artist.”

Jessica knew she wanted to be an artist at age 6. Both of her parents were artists, and she majored in graphic design at college, with a minor in fine art. In addition to her parents, Jessica is inspired by Van Gogh, Monet, Berthe Morisot and Frida Kahlo. She told us, “I am absolutely obsessed with impressionists; I love their take on reality.”

About the Artist: Beverly Brown

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist: Beverly Brown

In her high-rise New York City studio, Beverly Brown uses watercolors, pastels and even digital paint to create artwork in her signature ethereal style. Popular with interior designers, her prints can be found in corporate spaces, law firms, hospitals and private homes around the world. Beverly began her career as a fine art and commercial photographer. Her photographs are in the permanent collection of the New York Public Library.

Beverly told us, “My background in photography absolutely figures into my art today. Photography literally means ‘drawing with light.’ While I work with different media now, I think about light like a photographer—the direction of the light, tonal range and feeling of light. I also take photos constantly on my iPhone to use as references for future paintings.”

About the Artist: Suzanne Barton

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist: Suzanne Barton

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, mixed-media artist Suzanne Barton moved to South Florida 50 years ago. She had been an amateur photographer since childhood, but meeting portrait photographer Willie L. Hill changed her life. The man Suzanne calls “my teacher, my friend, my critic and constant support” convinced her to go professional in 1985. Thirty years later, her life would change again when she took the plunge into underwater photography.

Suzanne discovered her affinity for water when she moved to the coast. She says, “Water is vital to life as we know it. It supports us in the womb, energizes, purifies and cleanses. Water symbolizes purity, clarity, growth, illumination and transformation. Our bodies average 70 percent water and our blue planet slightly more. The feeling of enhanced well-being around water is universal to all. This effect, known as blue mind, reduces stress and anxiety.”

About the Artist: Bella Pilar

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist: Bella Pilar

Bella Pilar made a name for herself through her greeting card designs for Papyrus. Her collaboration with the company has lasted more than a decade and led to her being their featured artist.

“I love to paint for the sake of art and the pleasure of creating a painting, but I’m especially excited when I get to share my art with others by having it printed on product that people can have for themselves and enjoy,” Bella explained. Her work can be found on more than just greeting cards. It’s seemingly everywhere, including gift bags, gift wrap, puzzles, mugs, canvas prints, wall art, journals, jewelry and phone cases.

About the Artist: June Valentine-Ruppe

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist: June Valentine-Ruppe

This month’s cover art is by June Valentine-Ruppe, a self-taught artist who was born and raised in California, where she always had a passion for art. For more than 30 years, June illustrated over 120 children’s books for Disney, Scholastic, Golden Books and more. In the books, she illustrated beloved characters from Sesame Street to Disney and Lamb Chop to Barney the Dinosaur. She even created artwork at special backstage VIP events at Disneyland. When I asked if she still worked as an illustrator, June replied, “For many years now I have devoted myself to creating my own original artwork.”

About the Artist - Kristin Griffis

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Kristin Griffis

Living in Ridgeland, SC, with her husband and five children, Kristin Griffis describes her art as “Pop/Folk with a touch of naïveté.” She’s lived in the Lowcountry most of her life, having been born and raised on Hilton Head Island. While Kristin’s been painting since preschool, the time she spent on the West Coast was a major influence on the subject matter and style of her work today.

About the Artist - Kathy Womack

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Kathy Womack

The image on our cover this month is by prolific artist Kathy Womack. It is titled Women and Wine: Sixteenth Edition and is part of a series of more than 40 paintings. Kathy began her artistic career as a fashion illustrator, working at the Austin American-Statesman in the mid-nineties. She explains her move to canvas from print: “After working in advertising for a decade as a fashion illustrator, I craved freedom from the nine-to-five and looked to a different outlet. I picked up my brushes and never looked back.”

About the Artist - Joshua Roman

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Joshua Roman

Our cover art for November is called “Kindred Spirits,” and it has us in a Halloween mood. Like most of Joshua Roman’s work, it transports you into another world. It takes the familiar (often drawing on popular culture) and turns it inside out. Through inventive use of color and line, Joshua takes you through the looking glass to the world within.

Joshua creates his spellbinding mixed-media artwork in a secluded home studio in the forested mountains of California, just far enough from the distractions of Los Angeles. He spent 15 years in the City of Angels, but found he is much more productive in the woods, where he moved seven years ago. During that time, Joshua’s work has evolved. He has to be productive to keep up with the demand for his other-worldly paintings.

About the Artist - Rongrong DeVoe

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Rongrong DeVoe

Growing up in Qingdao, China, Rongrong DeVoe was inspired by both her parents. Her father was an entrepreneur, and she loved to hear him talk about his day over dinner. His big dream for his daughter was being a wife and mother, but she always knew she wanted to follow his example into business. Meanwhile, her mother sparked her interest in fashion illustration by giving her fashion magazines as a child.

Rongrong worked as a concept artist in the video game industry in Shanghai, but in 2009 she moved to New York City to “pursue the American Dream.” While in New York, she earned her master’s degree in Illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology and worked as a fashion designer for major fashion companies. Rongrong always knew she wanted more than to work for someone else. Every morning before work, she would watch YouTube videos from business coaches.

About the Artist - Steve Henderson

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Steve Henderson

Steve Henderson is an incredibly prolific artist, working in charcoal, oil and watercolor to depict landscapes, seascapes and the human experience in different environments. When discussing his process, Steve often uses words like “we” and “our.” He explains: “That is what Steve Henderson Fine Art is—a partnership with my wife, Carolyn. Marketing, writing, making contacts, social media, the books all require a lot of time. So does painting. So, I paint, Carolyn writes. A marriage made in heaven.”

About the Artist - Lori Mehta

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Lori Mehta

Lori Mehta’s life changed in a high school classroom eight years ago. She and a class full of women were studying painting with artist Zhanna Cantor. Lori explained, “For many women, after their children have grown, they’re looking around for what to do now. What is the next act?” That class helped her discover that her next act was painting.

Having majored in printmaking in college and graduate school, Lori was no stranger to art and creativity. Painting was new, though. She started out with acrylics and transitioned to oils after studying with artist Catherine Kehoe. Lori lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with her husband, although she spent much of the pandemic at their second home in a small town on Cape Cod with their younger daughter. She escaped the stresses of the world outside by spending days on the beach, taking photos and making sketches, or in her studio, painting for hours.

About the Artist - Victoria Christian

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Victoria Christian

Raised in Ashland, Oregon, Victoria Christian is an artist, author, sociologist, speaker and so much more. With degrees from Southern Oregon University, Northern Arizona University and Portland State University, she has compiled much of her educational research into the book, Feminine Mysticism in Art: Artists Envisioning the Divine. Victoria’s curiosity and adventurous spirit have taken her to many beautiful places in the Western United States, including Hawaii.

About the Artist - Catherine Durrett

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Catherine Durrett

Catherine Durrett was born in Atlanta to artist parents Barbara McFadyen and Joe Durrett. She and her brother spent their childhood traveling and living across America. Through these adventures, Catherine was exposed to an inspirational and complex cross-section of people and their everyday joys and struggles. Together with her parents’ bold, colorful serigraphs and detailed etchings, her experiences have shaped her ever-evolving style. Catherine says, “If you’re a true artist, you grow and change.”

Other influences include Alphonse Mucha, Peter Max, Maxfield Parrish, Georgia O’Keefe and Kathe Kollwitz. Catherine honed her artistic skills at Portland Art Museum School, Atlanta College of Art, Art Institute of Atlanta, NYC School of Visual Arts, NYC Pratt Phoenix, and through private tutoring. She has enjoyed group and solo shows in New York City, been published in Jezebel magazine and painted four panels for the original AIDS Quilt, which hangs in the White House.

About the Artist - Sonja Griffin Evans

Kelly Hunter

About the Artist - Sonja Griffin Evans

This is the first time Beaufort native and US Army veteran Sonja Griffin Evans’ work has appeared on our cover, but we doubt it will be the last. The self-taught artist started painting as a form of therapy and hopes her work will “continue to help encourage and inspire others.” Sonja often incorporates found objects into her art, which allows her to “see the figures embedded in the material—to unlock the beauty and the story that lies within.”

This month’s cover, “Long Road Home II,” was commissioned by a collector who inquired about purchasing a painting they loved. Unfortunately, the original had already sold, so they asked for something similar. Sonja discussed size, materials, colors and other details with them. Throughout the process of creation, Sonja “sent images of the painting at different stages to the collector so they could see the progress of their piece—the birth of their baby.”

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Kelly Hunter
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