We are a fine art education studio for adults, teens and children. We have two locations in Charlotte and Pineville, NC.


Holt Cleaver, creator of Holt School, and Kate Stewart, are professional artists who wish to pass their love of fine art to the Charlotte community. The program at Holt School of Fine Art focuses on teaching techniques that give students the foundations needed to draw and paint for a lifetime.
Holt School is home to over 200 artists including adults, teens and children ages 8+. There are currently two locations, the first at Dilworth Artisan Station in South End and home to over 20 professional artists. The second location opened in January 2019 on the charming Main St. of Pineville.
Our classrooms are traditional artist studios with each student working at an easel or drawing horse. We aim to give our students the highest quality of art education by staffing our studio with professional artists and trained instructors who have a degree in art or are pursuing a degree in art. We keep our teacher to student ratio low at 1:6 so that each student is able to have their individual needs met. This intimate environment enables us to tailor our program to help them achieve their personal artistic goals.

Owners Kate & Holt
Owners Kate & Holt


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The Holt School Team!
The Holt School Team!

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In the classroom
In the classroom

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Owners Kate & Holt
Owners Kate & Holt


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Our program is built on a foundation in drawing; the more confident one feels with drawing the better they can conquer any other art medium. Once students have a basic knowledge of drawing we experiment with watercolors, charcoal, and eventually oil painting. We provide our students with the tools they need for success using skill specific challenges in the classroom.

Students who have completed our foundations courses are encouraged to study portraiture and attend our live model workshops during the summer.  Students are also encouraged to expand their artistic experience beyond the classroom through art shows, community murals, and art competitions.




Kate Stewart - Co - Owner of Holt School Art

Kate Stewart
Co-Owner/Director of Operations

Kate Stewart was bound for the art world from a young age and always had a passion for creating art. Kate began private art lessons in elementary school, an invitation-only summer arts program in middle and high school, and attended a Visual Art Magnet high school. Kate focused her attention on pursuing a career as an artist and art teacher, and obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Radford University in Virginia. Her post-college career in art began as an instructor at Holt School of Fine Art in 2012, where her dream of becoming an art teacher was fulfilled. In 2017, she knew that she had truly found her place in life and became a partner at the school.  Since then, Kate continues to find herself immersed in her art and has focused on her career as a professional artist while also serving as Holt School’s Program Director.  She spends her time balancing her loves of the studio and life with her husband, Nicholas, and son, Charlie. As an artist, Kate creates original and commissioned family and lifestyle oil paintings.

Kate's Artist Site : www.katestewartfineart.com

Holt Cleaver - Co-Owner of Holt School

Holt Cleaver

Co-Owner/Creator of Holt School

Holt Cleaver has loved to draw for as long as she can remember. Holt’s fate was sealed as an artist when she received the National Gold Key Scholastic Art Award during her freshman year in high school. Because of the honor, Holt's work was hung in the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. "Looking back, I think that's when I really decided that art would be my life's pursuit," Holt graduated from Appalachian State University in 2001 with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts with a major in Graphic Design. She decided to take a chance and move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in graphic design. Her dream was to work at one of the big studios in Hollywood, but fate took her another direction. She began training in the Mission: Renaissance Academy and soon became the Teens and Adult Program Director for Calabasas and Woodland Hills Fine Art Studios in California. During that time, she took another chance in the summer of 2003 when enrolled at the International School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture in Umbria, Italy. She learned from some great artists such as Dan GustinMartha Armstrong, and Ying Li. Later in 2005 she decided it was time to move back to her home state of North Carolina and was the Gallery Director for Green Rice Gallery in Noda, Charlotte NC. This is when Holt began making a name for herself by capturing the beautiful scenery surrounding her. Holt's works can be found in galleries throughout the Carolinas. In addition to painting, Holt opened Holt School of Fine Art in 2009. When Holt is not helping teach the young budding artists at Holt School or painting away in her studio, she can be found at home with her husband Matt and two children Lyla (7yr) and Hyde (6yr).

Holt's Work : www.holtcleaver.com

Ebony - Holt School Pineville

Ebony Simpson
Studio Manager 

Pineville Location

Art has always been a constant in the life of aspiring artist Ebony Simpson. Growing up in the small town of Wingate, NC; access to the art community was very limited. If not for several amazing art teachers, Ebony's dream of becoming an artist would have seemed almost impossible. Ebony found both the means and opportunity to pursue her dream when attending Mars Hill University, where she earned a BA in Art, concentrating in Drawing. There she was engulfed into the world of art and was privileged to work, learn and grow into the artist she is today. Ebony has an interest in continuing her art career in animation. She loves to work both traditionally and digitally and looks forward to finding her art voice in the years to come.

Ebony's dream is to give back what all her teachers in the past gave her; knowledge to learn, a means to make art, and an opportunity to grow. She strives to be an asset in the lives of young artist and help them to achieve their dreams and goals.

Desiree - Holt School Southend

Desiree Thomas
Studio Manager

South End Location

From a young age Desiree has always had a knack for art and design however living in Charlotte didn't offer many opportunities for artistic growth or exploration. When Desiree was 6 years old she moved to Buffalo, NY where she lived until relocating back to Charlotte at 13. During her time there she flexed her artistic muscles at a neighborhood art center called Molly Olga. This art center was her weekly outlet where she learned ceramics and painting from established artists/ instructors. Years later, Desiree attended The University of North Carolina at Pembroke where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Art in 2016. In her most recent years, Desiree has been learning and honing in on her craft and focus in oil painting portraits. She is an artist who explores her fascination with color and the human gaze and immortalizes herself in her whimsical and mystifying work. Desiree was recently a guest resident artist at Goodyear Arts.

Nicholas Stewart - Adult art instructor Holt School Art

Nicholas Stewart
Adult Program Director / Instructor

Nicholas was born and raised in mountains of Southwest Virginia. It was here that Nicholas developed a love for the creative process and eventually taught several undergraduate art classes and graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Radford University. This influence of living in the mountains surrounded by nature is apparent in his abstract oil paintings, which are developed by structured impasto brush marks, emulsion pouring and glazes, and are inspired by contour, texture, and naturally reoccurring shapes found in nature. He also creates representational pieces of figures and floral arrangements. Nicholas strives to pass to his students and colleagues the information he has learned throughout his experiences as well as newly gained knowledge as he continues to expand his own horizons in the boundless understanding of painting. Nicholas has had his work featured in Shain Gallery, Queen City Fine Arts, Studio K, RedSky Gallery, Twenty-Two Gallery, QC Exclusive, and the Charlotte Art Guide. He is currently an instructor at Braitman Studio.

Learn more about Nicholas:  www.nicholasmstewart.com


Emma Hoffmann
Lead Instructor

Emma’s passion for art developed at a young age, and while seeking out a place to develop her creativity, began taking classes with Holt School of Fine Art at the age of 12. She soon became interested in figure drawing and portraiture, spending her time drawing and painting people from photos and during the live model figure sessions during the summer. At 15, she became an Intern at Holt School of Fine Art and soon after earned the title of Assistant instructor, now in the position of Lead Instructor.


Emma enjoys creating paintings using oil paints and charcoal to depict a diverse range of figures, and also enjoys doing digital painting on occasion. Her work at Holt’s was the force that helped her decide what to do with her future, and she is graduating from UNC Charlotte with a bachelors of fine arts with a concentration in painting this Fall and plans to continue teaching at Holt's. 

Bridget - Holt School Office Assistant

Bridget Armstrong

Bridget Armstrong was born and raised in the Carolinas. From an early age Bridget has had a creative spirit and loved telling stories, and grew to express her story telling through visuals. She loved drawing characters from her favorite comics and animated shows, which led her to earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Illustration and Digital Media at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Bridget’s works vary from illustrative to abstract realism. She loves painting with watercolors, but practices with other forms of mediums as well. In addition to traditional art, Bridget also loves creating digital art and honing her skills in animation. 

Bridget is always striving to explore new mediums and expand her artistic abilities. She began working for Holt School of Fine Art in 2019. In addition to teaching, Bridget also does freelance graphic design, illustration, and painting. 

Learn more about Bridget at: BridgetElyse.com


Bex Jones  
Community Liaison / Instructor

I was born in Asheville NC to a family of artists. Though being a digital media major at UNCC, I have a special love for fibers art and textiles. My original major was in fashion and textile design! In that time I became interested in the intersection of digital and physical art. Other than doing art I love playing with my cat named "Adobe Photoshop" and dog "Moro." 


Joan Coff
Assistant Instructor 

I'm a self taught artist and, to me, being self taught means I've learned from books, other artists, videos and of course, trial and error.  I've worked in pencil, colored pencil, watercolor and acrylic painting, which is what I have focused on for the past 18 years. I would say my art has been greatly influenced by my time in the American Southwest, which has a large population of artists, thousands of galleries and a huge art market. Amando Pena, R. C. Gorman, Georgia O'Keefe and the early Taos Art Colony masters like Bert Phillips, Ernest Blumenschein and Joseph Henry Sharp are some of my favorites. The wide open landscapes of the southwest, the Native American and Hispanic cultural influences and the bright colors popular in southwestern art can all be seen in my work.


Bree Roark
Assistant Instructor 


Abby Miranda
Assistant Instructor 


Danielle Foutz
Assistant Instructor 

Interested in working for Holt School?
Please send your resume to info@holtschooloffineart.com and attach a few small samples or your work.


Liv Knight

After being a student of Holt School of Fine Art for 4 years, Liv has joined the team as one of our Interns. Liv enjoys portraiture and has also been a regular on our mural team. She has also been a recipient of a Scholastic Key Award and her work was featured on a billboard in Pineville.