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

The Holt School Team
The Holt School Team

In the classroom
In the classroom

Owners Kate & Holt
Owners Kate & Holt


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/Program Director

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/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 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'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

South End Location

As a native Charlottean, Desiree always had a knack for art and design. During her childhood she moved to in Buffalo, NY where she lived for 7 years before relocating back to Charlotte. However, it wasn’t until her stay in Buffalo that she flexed her artistic muscles at a neighborhood art center called Molly Olga. This art center was her weekly outlet where she was free to create and learn ceramics and painting from established artists/instructors. Years later she attended The University of North Carolina at Pembroke where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Art in 2016. She brings an unfiltered perspective to her work showcased in her printmaking, painting and ceramics pieces. Desiree takes a fresh approach on a conventional themes by depicting the raw nature of the subject matter. She goes against the grain of traditional renderings and challenges the viewer’s taste and tolerance for the taboo in widely accepted medias.

Nicholas Stewart Adult Class 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
Shift Leader / 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. Emma draws inspiration from Renaissance style paintings, as well as illustrative styles when going through her creative process. She enjoys creating traditional art, using oil paints and charcoal, as well as digital art. Her work at Holt’s was the force that helped her decide what to do with her future. After receiving the highest score on her AP art portfolio in high school, she is now a third-year student at UNC Charlotte pursuing her BFA in Painting, and has plans to teach art at the elementary level.

Bridget Armstrong

Assistant Instructor / Office Assistant

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 Johnson  Assistant Instructior

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." 

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