HOLT SCHOOL OF FINE ART
We are a fine art education studio for adults, teens and children. We have three locations in Charlotte, Pineville, and Davidson, 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 three locations, in Charlotte, NC , Pineville, NC and Davidson, NC .
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.
HOLT SCHOOL TEAM
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 : www.katestewartfineart.com
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 Gustin, Martha 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 : www.holtcleaver.com
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 is a multidisciplinary artist based in Charlotte, NC who predominantly works in oils. In 2016, she earned her BA in studio art where she concentrated in printmaking and ceramics. In the following years, she became an art educator where she developed an affinity for oil painting and in 2022 completed an artist residency at Goodyear Arts. She’s exhibited with Black Cherry Magazine, Tchotchke Gallery, McColl Center and Goodyear Arts to name a few.
Provoked by her fascination with the human gaze; Thomas explores themes of beauty, power and identity through portraits and figuration. Through her lighthearted and at times erotically candid depictions, unconventional beauty is revered and highlighted through the celebration of their perceived flaws. Her intimate and often otherworldly portraits are self- reflective of her relationship with her own body, existence and identity as a Southern black femme. With bold colors and jubilant subject matter, her work becomes a celebration where she shows her vulnerable and playful side which is something that she, like many black femmes, are often denied. Through Thomas’ stylized renderings she is interested in creating a safe space for herself and others to be seen.
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
Youth Program Director / Studio Manager
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:
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!
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 BreifneRoark.com
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.
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.
Anne Lee Vaughn
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:
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.
Born in Sarasota, Florida, Rowan spent most of her formative years growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina with a love for art and animation. At a young age she took classes here at Holt School of Fine Art, which helped give her the foundations and skills needed to eventually be accepted into the University Of Central Florida’s animation program. After graduating with a BFA in character animation in May of 2022, Rowan now continues to nurture her love of design and animation while instructing at Holt School, and she is excited to bring the joy of creation to the next generations.
Grant Mahan is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina. He recieved their Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art at Winthrop University in 2022 with a professoriate certificate in Art Education. He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design for undergraduate school where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting with a double minor in the theory and history of art and design, as well as drawing, in 2019.
He has shown work in various galleries within North Carolina, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Italy. He was awarded a place in the European Honors Program in Rome, Italy. He was also a recipient of the presidential scholarship from Anderson Ranch, in Colorado. His most recent art endeavors have included showing with ArtFields, a publications within Dab Co. 3’s publication Art in the age of Corona, being a project studio artist for Goodyear Arts, and of course starting a new journey working with Holt School of Fine Art!
Learn more about Grant at:
Sophie Croker Poole
Sophie was born in Charlotte and enjoyed and and art history from a young age. She began taking classes at Holt School of Fine Art at age 11. Afterwards, she began to pursue art as a passion and career throughout high school.
Portraiture and figure drawing are her main focuses in oil and charcoal mediums.
Sophie is currently majoring in Studio Art at Queens University of Charlotte.
Averi Parrish was born in NY and took up an interest in art in 3rd grade. She moved to North Carolina in 2015 and began taking art classes for acrylic paint. In 2018, she started taking color pencil and watercolor classes as well. In 2020, she began going to Holt School of Fine Art and fell in love with oil paint. She has been in multi art shows and has sold multiple works in shows or as commissions. Before becoming an assistant instructor, Averi was an intern at the Pineville studio. Averi has always had a passion for art and is excited to share it!