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Artists

A BFA graduate of The University of Missouri-Columbia, Amanda Raithel resides in Falls City, Nebraska with her husband Ed and daughter Miranda. She enjoys capturing the essence of the cattle business through her artwork while juggling a full time job at a registered Angus operation.  "My artwork centers around the show cattle or 'western' cattle business," states Raithel. "I draw images that merit an emotional response from cattle people who 'live the dream' of ever raising a champion or being lucky enough to win a big show with a steer, heifer, or bull." Raithel and her husband and have focused their lives around the breeding cattle business. "We are totally consumed with the time, effort, and heart that cattle producers put into their progeny, herds, and lives. I think sometimes that the struggles and triumph cattle people go through are the biggest gift that we could be given, and I am making artwork to reflect the heart and emotion that is contained in the act of raising, selling, and showing registered cattle."


Carolyn Molder has been painting for almost nine years. She has always loved working with her hands, but painting gives her the greatest satisfaction. A move to the mountains for the climate and lifestyle has also provided her with inspiration from nature. Her paintings are representational and from the heart.  When asked about her favorite paintings, Carolyn replies that landscapes and animal subjects rank highest. "The rural landscapes are to preserve the scenes for future generations," she says of why she enjoys painting scenery. Of animal subjects, Carolyn replies, "My work showing my golden retrievers taught me a great deal about canine anatomy, plus giving me a close bond with my dogs. That understanding and affinity for animals helps me paint them more expressively."

Carolyn's art has been accepted by a number of juried shows from North Carolina to Florida. She has also had two solo exhibitions, including one with the Appalachian Pastel Society. Carolyn has also taught pastels at several art schools, including the JC Campbell Folk School and the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association. Carolyn is a member of numerous pastel and watercolor societies in addition to the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association.

After working for several years in advertising and marketing firms in Central Florida as a graphic designer, Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson decided that punching a clock was cramping her style. To resolve this, she co-founded Nelson Creative, Inc., a communication design firm in Longwood, Florida, in 1997 with her husband Doug. Elizabeth, born and raised in New England, has lived in Central Florida for the past 15 years. She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in advertising design from Syracuse University, in Syracuse, New York. When asked why she chose to become an artist, Elizabeth states, "I have always been an artist. We have a painting hanging in our home that I created in Kindergarten. I can still remember my excitement standing at the little easel with big fat brushes and my trash-bag smock, free to create anything I wanted."  She adds, "Painting takes me back to that freedom of being that child again."



John Plishka has been painting and drawing for most of his life. It is his passion to reveal the natural simplicity and beauty of the world around him onto paper or canvas. He specializes in art that reflects his interest in animals, rural America, and nature, striving to evoke an emotion or memory of something familiar and comfortable the the viewer. He hopes his art will take people to a place that they have not been to in awhile.

John received a bachelor of science in biology and a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from the University of Illinois. His wife and two children are a source of constant inspiration in his art and daily life. He paints and draws whenever free time presents itself , which is often late at night after the kids are in bed. John derives a tremendous amount of satisfaction and joy seeing people's reactions to his artwork!


Julia Swartz, a lifetime resident of Lancaster County Pennsylvania, has always had an eye for things of beauty. Whether it was genetic, her environment, or both, she has always been interested in art, flower gardens and decorating her home. Even when she was a little girl, she would borrow her mother's oil paints and begin developing her skills in applying paint to canvas. While going through grade school and high school, Julia took advantage of what few art courses were offered. As a teenager, Julia entered some of her early work in the local county fair and she took home the blue ribbon and best of show award. Julia has continued in her mother's tradition of planting and maintaining beautiful flowerbeds around her home. These flower gardens have become the inspiration of many of Julia's current works and according to Julia, there is no better therapy for the winter blues than getting her fingers dirty on a warm spring day.

After graduating from Lancaster Mennonite High School in 1970, Julia briefly studied oil painting with the late Jay McVey of Ephrata PA, but marriage and children absorbed most of her time for the next decade and a half. It wasn't until Julia got the last or her three children off to school, that she began to get more serious about her artistic talents.  A trip to New York Art Expo and several other New York galleries in 2001 was the spark that began a serious study of oil impressionism on canvas. True to her self taught ways, she armed herself with stacks of art books, and magazines, and made many more visits to Museums and galleries observing and absorbing all she could. Thus began her current look of very textured, bold, color on color, palette knife, impressionistic oil on canvas paintings. Julia loves to explore, create, and try new things so you will rarely ever see her paint the same thing twice. Thus her subjects are wide and varied, from landscapes to cats, flowers, figures and portraits. Even though Julia has added the medium of oil on canvas, she has not neglected her watercolors. The subject and the feeling Julia wants to create will determine whether she will use oil on canvas or watercolor on paper. "I want you to feel something when you look at my art" says Julia.


Gary Sauder grew up on a small farm in Sonoma County, California. He grew up showing registered Jersey cows in the local 4-H club. Over his career, he exhibited many grand champions and was showmanship champion numerous times. During his last 4-H year, he exhibited the Grand Champion Jersey at every show he entered, including the Jr. Grand National at the Cow Palace and the California State Fair. At the same shows, he was the dairy showmanship champion as well as the Round Robin Master Showmanship Champion. He earned the Paul Jackson Scholarship that same year. Gary attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, for two years. After college, Gary took a position caring for and exhibiting the show cattle for then, Meadow Glen Farms of Orland California. About that time he was introduced to colored pencils. Having always been an avid artist with a pencil, this produced an exciting jump into the realm of painting for Gary.

Gary's love of all animals led to painting wildlife and pet portraits. Along the way, he found the amazing medium of dry pastels. At some point after 2003, he decided to get back to his farm animal roots. He started painting them and found that cattle enthusiasts were happy with the results. Gary believes in a realist style. It is how he sees the world and Gary wishes to share that vision.

Kathy McComb Swift grew up on a dairy farm in Loudoun County, Virginia close to Washington, D.C. She grew up showing registered Holstein cows. Over her career, she had a Jr. All American nomination and was a 1990 Holstein Distinguished Junior Member Finalist. In 1993, she graduated with a dairy science degree from Virginia Tech. While there, Kathy was active in the dairy club and was also a Little All American Show Grand Champion. After college, Kathy pursued a veterinary degree. She graduated from The Ohio State University in 1997 and moved to Florida to a dairy practice that same year. It was a chance meeting of another artist in 2001 that renewed Kathy's interest in pursuing an art career. She took a beginning level metalsmithing class and immediately found the way to express her vision and creativity. Since then, she has studied at the University of Florida and the Penland School of Craft to hone her skills. In 2002, she applied to an art show and as they say, 'the rest is history'. Today Katherine participates in several shows a year along with gallery exhibitions.

Kathy believes in designing and creating jewelry that is distinctive, while being fun for someone to wear. Much of her inspiration comes from the simple aspects of her daily life. It is fun for her now to be able to bring together two of her loves: agriculture and art. The process has taken several years to evolve, but she hopes everyone will find enjoyment with her creations.

 

Kent Weakley is an artist/photographer living in Florida. Originally growing up in Illinois, Kent studied art & photography at the Art Institute of Chicago and he earned a Bachelor's of Fine Arts Degree from the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio. Kent is the owner and creative director for Blue Sky Graphic Communication, Inc., a full-service advertising and graphic design firm based in Ocala, Florida. Blue Sky Graphic's clients span the nation and it is here where Kent continues to refine his photography skills through the production of various commercial projects ranging many different subject matter. Besides running his business, Kent enjoys photographing nature and wildlife - capturing images in his backyard of Florida, as well as many other locations around the United States and abroad. In particular, Kent has developed a style of panoramic landscapes which uses an infrared black and white technique that captures his creativity.

 

 

Laurie Winkelman grew up on a registered Brown Swiss and Holstein farm in Watertown, Wisconsin. Laurie's passion for art and design started at a young age, and she spent most of her high school career in the art room taking art classes. After high school, her passion for dairy cows led her down a more scientific road in choosing a college. Laurie completed her Bachelor's degree in Dairy Science and Agricultural Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003. At UW-Madison, she was a member of the dairy judging team where she was High Individual at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Judging Contest in 2002, and a member of 5 winning teams during her career.  After graduation from UW-Madison, Laurie received her Master of science degree from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.  Drawing provides a release from the rigors of scientific study, and Laurie's favorite subjects to draw are animals, dairy cows in particular. While her time dedicated to drawing is limited due to the time commitment of her Ph.D. program, she thoroughly enjoys capturing the life and spirit of cows in her spare time.

 

Michael Murray is a professional digital fine artist and designer based in Glasgow, Scotland, who specializes in corporate, hospitality, educational, and private art commissions, as well as designing his own personal fine art pieces for exhibitions.  His work involves using photography along with computer enhancement to create exciting original pieces of digital art. His art varies from stylish photographic collages to highly complex digital mixed media aerial scenes of Worldwide locations. Michael also creates animal aerial art, due to his love of animals, as well as the art of architecture and toys.

Michael has always had a passion for art and design. His skills have developed considerably from a young age all the way through school, by studying product design in Glasgow and working as a games artist on a LEGO title in London. He is an art supplier for architects, interior designers, and private clients, both in the United Kingdom and internationally.  Michael has exhibited at the Lloyd Jerome Gallery,The Maclaurin Gallery, The Royal Concert Hall, Gallery 23, Alpha Arts, Hanover Fine Art, House For An Art Lover, the Glasgow Art Club, and Homes and Interiors Scotland 2008. His commissioned work may be found in the United Kingdom, United States, Europe, and Australia. His client list includes Stow College, Starbucks, Bar Square + Budweiser, The Goat + Heineken, Bar Bola, Kazaa Restaurant, and Keywest Design and Advertising.


Mary McIntyreAfter graduating from the University of Florida in the early 1970's, Mike and Mary Ellen McIntyre discovered the newly revived art of stained glass on a trip to California. They fell instantly in love with this vibrant, magical medium. Exploring the effects of light passing through various types of glass continues to be rewarding and satisfying career after 30-plus years. Their designs are inspired by things Mike and Mary Ellen care about deeply: our beautiful natural surroundings, music, architecture, the play of light and color. They maintain their work and teach classes from their studio in Gainesville, Florida.


Narrie Toole grew up on a wheat farm on the Kansas Colorado line west of Manter. She graduated from a class of 40 in high school, then attended and received a degree in Art Education from Kansas State University. Most of her adult life has involved ranching and farming. Narrie performed her ranching duties along with creating high fire reduction pottery professionally for 16 years.  After years of raising feeder cattle, Narrie pursued an interest in developing a registered cowherd. For the next sixteen years, she personally, managed, raised, and showed a much respected and well-known herd of cattle. With the experience from her feeder cattle, she selected genetics for carcass traits, bunk line conversion, docility, and maternal suitable for short grass country. Developing accurate knowledge of cattle confirmation and being able to analyze them quickly was key. They were good, honest cattle and a joy to work with.

During the more than twenty years of ranching, Narrie recorded lots of scenes: long rides on miles of pastures, processing and doctoring the cattle, weather. As she comments on her unique perspective, "The danger that comes with trying to care for and protect cattle and horses working when you're so tired you can't hardly walk. Losing your boots in knee deep mud and manure, scours, infections, things that aren't romantic at all. Working in 105 degree temps with 40+ wind or 20 degrees below zero with the same wind.The joy of saving the calf that isn't breathing or the one that has dust pneumonia. The pleasure of seeing a calf bedded in straw and out of the wind during a blizzard, soft munching when the wind noise is shut out." All the years of daily contact gave Narrie an excellent base to paint these animals.  Narrie is a charter member of the American Society of Bovine Artists.

Robert Duncan was born in Utah and began painting at age eleven. He spent summers as a boy on his grandparents' ranch in Wyoming where his grandmother gave him his first set of oil paints. It was there that he grew to love the country, the open spaces, and the rural lifestyle. Robert has painted professionally for about 25 years. He studied at the University of Utah and worked as a commercial artist before his full-time dedication to the fine art of the American West. Robert was elected into the Cowboy Artists of America at a young age and won two silver medals in their annual exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum - a dream come true. Robert, his wife Linda, their six children, and a lively assortment of farm animals live in the little town of Midway in Northern Utah.

"I decided years ago to paint the things that I cared most about. That decision has brought me a lot of joy and satisfaction and I'm especially grateful that my family has been such an important part of all of this."

"I grew up in the suburbs, but every chance I got, I would sneak out to nearby fields to watch the birds or play in the creek, and the summers I spent on my granddad's ranch really taught me how much we all need Nature in our lives. But change is all around us. The family farm is disappearing at an alarming rate. Development and sprawl cover fertile fields by the minute. I want my grandchildren to be able to walk through a field and hear a meadowlark call. We don't all have to live on a farm, but to pass by and see the cows grazing or just to know that there are wild places being kept wild makes our lives better. Ina way, my paintings are a call to think about the things that have touched our lives and hope that we might all be willing to do our part to save these things for future generations."

Robin Maria Pedrero began fine art studies at the age of thirteen. While growing up in Connecticut, her father would bring her home to visit family at The Neilson Farm in Dutchess County, NY. Farm work, living off the land and raising livestock are stories shared to this day. Attracted to farm lands scattered with livestock, Robin can be spotted with camera and art supplies in hand to capture scenes while traveling. Nature is an integral aspect of inspiration for her in creating vivid works of art. "I respond to what catches my eyes and heart using colors, shapes and lines," explains Robin. "I desire to capture simple pleasures, wind in the trees, atmospheric reflections, people, animals and places around the world. I personify nature through color and movement evoking moods of transition, strength, and serenity."

Acknowledged for her luminous and captivating works Robin has since become an established award winning artist, published in magazines, newspapers, documentaries, and news broadcasts. Jeffrey Spalding, now CEO and President for Glenbow Museum, Canada, formerly judged her work best of show with a "magical use of color" as Director of the Appleton Museum in Ocala, Florida. The "PSA" after Pedrero's signature is a privilege of elected signature members of the Pastel Society of America. Collected worldwide, her works are in private and corporate collections. She works from her home studio in Longwood, Florida, enjoying the company of her dog Max. "I delight to capture a likeness but more to create a piece of art that is emotive and will stand through time. What do you see? "


Shannon Grissom, a California native, originally expressed her creative self through music. Moved to combine her musical affinity with her passion for color, she began oil painting in 1992. Inspired and driven, she rose early each day to paint. These painting sessions were completed before the start of her workday. This demanding schedule was worth the effort. By 1999, she was able to leave her day job to become a professional artist.

Grissom says "I love painting early. I don't have to contend with the influences of the day. It's pure. It's so quiet. Well, pretty quiet. You see every morning I rise with a song lyric or melody that can stay in my head all day. Sometime the relevance is applicable for the day, other times; the message applies over a longer period. Always the music has relevance to my work, my life, so I pay attention."  Today, Shannon is an award-winning artist. She has won awards for both her painting and her television series, "Give Your Walls Some Soul". Recently, her Monkey Made of Sockies character has been licensed on golf club headcovers.

"My mission is to 'give your walls some soul' and to give your heart inspiration and joy. To accomplish this, I mostly paint portraits of people, animals and things. That is why you tend to see single objects on the canvas. And, because the paintings are large, I have no choice but to get intimate with each painting. I feel this large size helps the viewer participate in each piece," explains Grissom.  She goes on to say, "My use of warm vibrant colors best reflects my energy and also furthers my goal of connecting with you. With music streaming through my head, I paint portraits. Portraits of people, portraits of cows, portraits of sock monkeys, portraits of life."

Valerie Murdock D'Ortona is a Ph.D.graduate of the University of Florida and a college educator, not a children's play school art teacher, as you may have speculated. In 2003, shortly after Valerie had moved back to Gainesville, Florida, her adult son recommended she take some art classes to stay out of trouble. Valerie signed up for watercolor and acrylic painting classes through the local community college's continuing education program. Splashing bright colors on canvas and paper lassoed Valerie's fancy. Cows started moseying out of the paint tubes, and soon she was 'hooved'.   "Isabel's World" was soon created by Valerie. It's a playful place of cow art, original animal paintings and abstract art made in acrylics and water media.



Victoria Whorley, a lifetime resident of Central Virginia, grew up with the river and the beautiful mountains nearby. She always had an interest in anything concerning nature: animals, flowers, and landscapes - all the things she loves to paint.  As a teenager, she was always able to render realistic pencil drawings. In 1996, she began painting with watercolors and found it to be such a beautiful way to express the beauty of all the things around her that she loved. "It has the ability to capture the smallest of details along with the darkest shadows and brightest of lights."

Painting from photographs is how she is able to achieve such accurate detail. The light and shadows in a photograph never change as they would if painting plein air. Not blessed with the ability to paint from her mind, she needs to be able to visually see the subject and focus on it at different times during the day and night. Victoria especially enjoys painting animals; the innocence and mischief showing in their eyes is such a joy to paint.  When not painting, she loves to drive the back roads of Virginia with Mandy, her Cairn Terrier, looking for cows and any other animals that will stand still long enough for a photograph or two, for future paintings.  Victoria's art has been accepted by many juried shows from West Virginia to North Carolina and enjoys meeting admirers of art as well as their dogs that come to the shows.

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