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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 500 artists including adults, teens and children ages 8+. There are currently two locations, in Charlotte, NC and Pineville, NC. A third studio will open in Davidson, NC in 2023.
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.


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.

About Section



Instructor Section

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 Director of Operations.  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 artwork and on the weekends can be found doing Live Wedding Painting.

Kate's Artist Site :


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.  Holt opened Holt School of Fine Art in August of 2009. When Holt's not working with the young budding artist of Holt School, she can be found volunteering at her children's school or working on commissions in her home studio.

Holt's Artist Site :


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 Thomas
Studio Manager

Davidson 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 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:


Emma Hoffmann
Youth Program Director / Studio Manager
Oakhurst Location

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 Youth Program Director.


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 graduated in December of 2021 from UNC Charlotte with a BFA in Painting. 

Learn more about Emma and her paintings:


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 

Bree Roark was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, where art has become a center for her life. At a young age, she used art to visualize characters from stories she was creating, and this is what let her begin to fall in love with art. At age 13, she entered into classes at Holts School of Fine Art where she primarily focused on watercolor landscapes. She began attending summer camps that focused on portraiture and figure drawing, which really allowed her to focus on her love for recreating the human form. At age 15, she began as an intern for Holt’s School of Fine Art before graduating into an assistant instructor. After completing High School, she took a break to figure out her career path but ultimately rejoined the Holt School team in 2021 after realizing her path was in art.

Bree Roark is a portrait artist and illustrator, who is currently a student at UNC Charlotte.

Check out Bree’s website at



Danielle Foutz
Assistant Instructor 


I was born and raised in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Roanoke, VA. I am a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)  with a major in Painting/Printmaking. During my time at VCUarts I was able to combine the two things I have been passionate about for my entire life; Art and Animals. My current paintings are very conceptual based and speak on animal welfare issues while also showing the true beauty and emotions of non-human animals. My process is very experimental, so I am always interested in trying out new forms of medium! 

My hometown is another big influence on my work. When I am not painting animals, you will find me painting mountain ranges. Often, there is also a star painted somewhere in the mountains. This represents  a forever special place to me “The Roanoke Star” which is a large star-shaped statue that is situated on Mill Mountain and overlooks the Roanoke Valley. 

I am so excited to extend my love and passion for art to all the students at Holt School of Fine Arts!


Liv Knight
Assistant Instructor 

I was born in and raised in Charlotte NC, and I became passionate about art from the moment I could hold a pencil. In middle school I entered my work into the scholastic art and writing competition and received a gold key award along with my art displayed on a billboard close to downtown Pineville! I am currently a junior at Providence High school and have been with Holt School since I was very young, and now work as an assistant instructor! Art has always been a part of my life, and I love that I get to teach what I am most passionate about to kids. 


Anne Lee Vaughn
Assistant Instructor 


Anne Lee’s passion for art started at a very young age. She started taking art classes at age 8 and classes with Holt School of Fine Art a few years later. Her favorite medium is oil paint, and she loves to paint landscape scenes from photography taken during her travels. She also likes to experiment with mediums all kinds of art. She also has an interest in fashion design. She is an assistant instructor at Holt School of Fine Art. 

Learn more about her art on her website: 

Learn more about her art:


Kaylie Nelson
Assistant Instructor 

Kaylie is a young artist who earned a BFA in Studio Art, concentrating in Painting &
Drawing. After graduating from Appalachian State University in May 2022, she moved
back to her hometown to develop her artistic career. Her main medium of focus is
charcoal but has found a love for ceramics and watercolor as well. Kaylie’s work is
centered around the ideas of human emotions/connections and our personal
experiences with the world around us. Having come from a household where her family
moved states a lot, she was able to surround herself in new environments and meet
new people along the way. This sparked her artistic passion at a young age and has
continued her love of art and travel.

Kaylie is most excited about showing people how influential art can be. She loves when
people get excited when they accomplish their goals with art. She believes that there is
so much more to learn through other’s perspectives and creative ideas.


Reese Clemons
Assistant Instructor 


I was born in Maryland and spent the first eleven years of my life around the arts of the Washington DC beltway. A natural infinity for museums and the arts started young. Moving to Charlotte NC in the fifth grade took me straight to Holt where I began to learn, and experience as many mediums as offered. 

A self-proclaimed Marvel nerd has led to a Comic influence in some of my original pieces. I have participated in two mural projects with Holt and am an AP / Advanced Art student at Myers Park High School.

I am beyond excited about being a part of the Holt team and assisting young people with their love of art pursuits.


Josh Greene
Assistant Instructor 


Born and raised in Charlotte, Josh has always had a love of art and drawing inspired by
the cartoon characters he grew up with, emulating their images to learn rudimentary
drawing techniques. Taking any art classes he could growing up, it was not until college
that he found a true passion for combining art and teaching.

Having earned a BFA in illustration from UNCC, and after spending years teaching
preschool, Josh aims to help students explore and find the joy in art as his teachers did
for him.

When he is not teaching, Josh enjoys creating miniatures and dioramas. Some of which
have been featured by prominent toy companies and photographers.


Doodle Ackerman
Assistant Instructor 


Ani “Doodle” Ackerman is an illustrator, content creator, animator, and printmaker. Doodle started drawing at 6 and began oil painting courses when they were 8, which marked the beginning of their artistic journey. In 2019 they received their BFA with an emphasis in Printmaking from Northern Arizona University. Nowadays, other than teaching for Holt, they do freelance illustration and animation.


You can find their work on their website:

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

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