I am on a journey to discover some things you might not know about the local artist(s) in McKinney with an emphasis on discovering a few well kept secrets.
The Art House
My first stop is with Sona Knox. I met with Sona on the front porch of the Art House located at 502 North Kentucky Street just off the square of downtown McKinney. As we sat in the warm sunlight her story started to evolve.
Sona Knox gives oil pastel instruction to Caden Elliott.
Sona was a stay-at-home mom who at the age of 42 was led down a spiritual path. As Sona would say, “God puts in my heart the path he wants me to take. One should never allow age, nationality, education or money to stop you from following your heart’s desire.” Sona’s desire is to teach children art. As she would put it, “I always saw myself teaching outside under the tall Redwood trees of California.”
Flat broke, a stay-at-home mom with a teaching certificate in PE and a minor in art from the University of Illinois, Knox took classes to become a certified art instructor. She started working at McKinney ISD for experience and ended up teaching five years at McNeill Elementary. For six summers she taught children at a camp in Lake Tahoe. Her dream seemed to be coming to light, however, she dearly missed being with her son.
Inspired, she pulled her Jeep up in front of 502 North Kentucky. At that moment, she envisioned the whole concept of The Art House. In her words, “A colorful home for children of all ages to be creative with a sense of community.” Within a matter of weeks Knox acquired six teachers with an established art back-Ground and students. People just showed up and donated furniture and used art supplies. Their first summer, The Art House had over 100 students.
Today, The Art House teaches over 200 students weekly by 12 teachers. Ten artists are making it their studio. Half of the classes are focused on pottery with six studio potters on site. Other classes include printmaking, drawing and water colors. The youngest student is five with the oldest nearing 80. The Art House is known for its awesome craft classes and special event planning — including birthday parties. Students must be kind, work hard and clean their mess!
If you’re interested in printmaking, Lynne Hubner can show you the ropes at The Art House.
Knox also co-founded the McKinney Art Studio Tour “MAST”, mckinneyartstudiotour.com. This year the event is open to all artists and the public at no charge!
My next stop is at the studio of Anne Royer. When you walk in, energy of creativity whirls about you. Art supplies as far as your eye can see, lighting to complement your work and then of Course there is Anne. Anne works one on- one with each of her students, all at different levels. When her students are finished they like to hang out as there is a sense of community and home.
Royer has been teaching for over 25 years. Her teaching is not limited to the studio. She enjoys a variety of settings that include The Art House of McKinney, Orison’s Art Gallery and Chestnut Square Historical Village. She is well known for her presentations given at the Heard-Craig Center for the Arts as well as Collin College. Anne is forever forging on to make McKinney Texas an art lovers destination. She founded the Arts and Music Guild, leads juried shows and created “Music In Motion,” which will Celebrate its second event Oct. 5 at Chestnut Square Historical Village.
Wild Brush Studios
Wild Brush Studios, located at 101 W. Virginia St. just above the Cake Stand, was next on my tour. My class started at 7 p.m. I arrived a bit early to chat with the owners Leslie Booth, Leslie Wright and Frank Guehra, who likes to be referred to as, “The rest of the talent.”
It was not very long before I discovered that these three had something very special in common. They are all McKinney ISD teachers with a chemistry that makes the room light up with their passion to teach art. Guehra is diversified in drawing styles and mixing great color. Wright is a natural at connecting with people; she doesn’t forget anyone’s name. Booth is the founder, which originally started as Sip & Doodle. She has the copyright on her brush technique and layering of paint that is taught in the class. I found it simple and easy and very effective.
Have a little pinot while you paint at Wild Brush Studios. All the supplies are included, and it’s a great social activity for groups.
The fee for the class includes all of your supplies. Each participant is encouraged to pick out what he or she would like to paint in acrylic. Acrylic paint is the medium used as it dries quickly. You are then given a palette of color to paint with. Next, the background brush technique is taught to you, and you are ready to start. The teachers are always there to guide you along with blocking in your subject matter to mixing your colors. Music sets the mood along with a BYOB For the adult classes only. By the time the evening was over my husband and I had a wonderful painting that we would be proud to show anyone.
This class is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys art but their schedule or careers have taken them to the left side of the brain. It was fun, productive and very self-rewarding!
The Wild Brush Studio offers classes and parties for all age groups and will Travel to private homes or corporate offices for parties. For more information go to wildbrushstudio.com.
Walls of Clay
My final quest for experiencing art was at Walls of Clay. As I walked in I saw a young mother holding her 6-month-old child while painting a mug. The mug had the child’s hand prints on it along with the words Daddy.
Lining the shelves around Walls of Clay, many other wonderful clay pieces, already kiln fired, were waiting for someone to personalize them. The price of your clay piece included all of your supplies and kiln firing, a great way to create a personalized gift!
You’ll find a wide array of decorative and useful items to paint at Walls of Clay.
I was soon greeted by the new owner, Jenn Meyer. My first question was, “What makes Walls of Clay so special to you?’ Jenn went on to tell me how her family Was in the process of moving to McKinney from New York back in 2004. Her daughter was quite young and she brought her to Walls of Clay as a way to have fun and connect with McKinney. The memory and time shared together with her daughter was so meaningful, that when the business went up for sale in 2011 she and her husband Chris decided to purchase it. It is now a family-run business.
The studio welcomes painters of all ages and experience levels. Meyer believes, “No experience is necessary to have a unique experience filled with fun, creativity and lots of imagination”. They have easy-to-do tips, tricks and techniques to help along your fabulously fun painting journey. Surrounded by samples, colors and inspiration, Walls of Clay is a great place for walk-in customers of all ages, birthday parties and hosting private events.
For more information stop by and visit Jenn and her family at Walls of Clay located at 211 N. Kentucky St., McKinney, TX 75069 or visit wallsofclaymckinney.com.
I have discovered that there is an artist in each of us regardless of age. The degree at which you would like to tap into and develop is your choice. In McKinney there are many experienced people and places you can go to. If you are not already cultivating your artistic abilities, I encourage you start today!
Visit McKinneyOnline.com for an extensive list of additional artists, programs, galleries, events and organizations.