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Art Institute Instructors

Headshot - Ned Aldrich
Ned Aldrich

For over 25 years, Edward Aldrich has constantly strived to create art that speaks to the wonder of the natural world as well as the sheer pleasure of painting. Aldrich is dedicated to reaching beyond the rendering of wildlife and the natural world; his belief is that conveying the inherent being of an animal is integral to his art. The viewer is drawn into a scene not to simply look at and appreciate it, but feels he or she has actually witnessed the wonder of wildlife. His style breathes life into his subjects and conveys the feeling of actually being there. Aldrich's precise brush technique and sense of light and composition place him in the tradition of the past masters of 19th century Britain such as Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.

Aldrich graduated from the Rhode Island School of design in 1987 and has enjoyed a very successful career in wildlife painting. He paints primarily in oil and travels the world to view, sketch and photograph his subjects. He paints a broad spectrum of wildlife and its varied habitats, but prefers the cats, North American wildlife and birds.

As an accomplished painter, Aldrich has received numerous awards, and his work has been exhibited in major shows throughout the country. Aldrich participates in annual shows such as "Small Works, Small Wonders" at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum; "Western Visions" at the National Museum of Wildlife Art; the Buffalo Bill Show at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, WY; the Oil Painters of America Annual National Show; and the "Birds in Art" at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum, to name a few. The artist has also had fifteen one-man shows in his career and is represented by seven galleries throughout the country.

Aldrich's book, "Drawing and Painting Animals," features over 100 of his paintings and drawings. His outstanding art has been featured in numerous articles in national publications such as Southwest Art, Wildlife Art, American Artist, Art of the West and others. Edward Aldrich's dynamic images are exhibited in galleries in the United States and in Canada. The artist and his family reside in Colorado.


Headshot - Steve Buchmann
Stephen Buchmann

Dr. Stephen Buchmann is an ASDM Research Associate and Art Institute Instructor. Stephen is also an adjunct faculty member in the Entomology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology departments at the University of Arizona. He's published 12 books and over 150 scientific papers. He is currently a co-PI on an NSF grant investigating buzz pollination and learning in bumblebees. He was chief scientist and head of research for the recent Disneynature feature film "Wings of Life." Buchmann is scientist at large for the San Francisco based non-profit Pollinator Partnership and president of the Drylands Institute in Tucson. Artistically, he is most comfortable behind the lens of his Nikon D800 DSLR doing either landscape or macrophotography. He teaches courses on digital color image capture, then software conversion into black and white images for printing and display. Stephen teaches another course about using high resolution flatbed scanners for image capture of insects and found objects from the Sonoran Desert. He's working on several new book projects, including a guide to desert bees for ASDM press. When not in the field using his DSLR, he enjoys using 3D surface scanning and rapid prototype 3D printing as first steps in creating natural history fine art small bronzes.


Headshot - Kim Duffek
Kim Duffek

Kim Duffek has been fascinated by nature and art since she was a toddler being awed by the rainforest of Hawaii as a toddler, and wandering the Tallgrass prairie region of Illinois as a child. Tucson became her permanent home after finishing a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and a B.F.A. in Studio Art at the University of Arizona. She worked full-time in free-lance drafting, illustration and art for about a decade before joining ASDM's Botany Department in 1992. She has worked for 21 years as a horticulturist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and volunteered as a docent there for 5 1/2 years prior to her employment. Whether painting wildlife art or illustrating books, including children's books, or writing or teaching, she is in her creative element.


Headshot - Elliott Everson
Elliot Everson

Elliott Everson is a long time resident of Arizona and has spent many years hiking and climbing in the desert. Elliott creates his own vision of the plants, lizards and other animals of the Arizona desert working with colored pencil on paper and stone. His favorite medium, colored pencil, is well suited to exploring a variety of effects and textures. When working on natural stone, Elliott creates drawings that harmonize the subjects with the drawing surface depicting the life of plants and animals that live among the rocks.

Elliott has participated in and won numerous awards in local, state and national exhibitions. Many of his commissioned works are held in private collections. His cartoons and illustrations have been published in books and brochures.

Elliott graduated with a degree in Art Education from Arizona State University, and for many years has taught classes at the Shemer Art Center, Brio Fine Arts, Desert Botanical Garden and Sonoran Desert Museum. He teaches colored pencil workshops at locations in Arizona and nationally.

Elliott is a Juried Member of the Arizona Artists Guild and Arizona Art Alliance. He is a Signature Member and Five-Year Merit Award recipient of the Colored Pencil Society of America.

You can see Elliott's artwork at: http://www.elliotteverson.com


Headshot - Linda Feltner
Linda Feltner

Linda M. Feltner is an award-winning nature artist, educator, and visual storyteller. Her experience spans more than 38 years in painting and drawing, including serving as a birding field guide, and developing her business in fine art and interpretive illustration. Her career has developed through interpretive media, book and magazine illustrations, exhibitions, teaching, commissions, and lectures to professional organizations. She has been an instructor for the University of Washington Scientific Illustration Certification Program, and currently for the Art Institute of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. She is a member of the Artists For Conservation, Society of Animal Artists, and Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.


Headshot - Janie Gildow
Janie Gildow

Janie Gildow is a graduate of the Ohio State University and recipient of the Martha Holden Jennings Award for Excellence in Teaching. She earned Signature status in the Colored Pencil Society of America and has received national and international awards for her colored pencil work.

As a professional artist, her work has been published in more than ten books, including The Best of Colored Pencil.

She is the author of Colored Pencil Explorations and co-author of the Colored Pencil Solution Book, both by North Light.

As an instructor, Janie has taught art to students in the public schools and colored pencil workshops for adults in cities throughout the United States, and also offers online lessons from her website to a student base worldwide. She has been an instructor at the Desert Museum Art Institute since 2003.

The colored pencil is perfect for Janie's detail-oriented realism and she often combines other mediums with it in order to boost its color and effects. She believes good art is a result of thorough planning, creative expression, strong composition, and a competent handling of the medium — and she enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise with her students. Her classes are conducted in an encouraging and relaxed atmosphere with a combination of lecture, PowerPoint, examples, demos and handouts.


Headshot - William Hook
William Hook

The American landscape is William Hook's primary subject. Large skies, low horizons, distant mountains, and ocean scenery are expressed in his paintings with broad brushstrokes of vivid color. His work is distinctive and stands out from the crowd of today's genre of painters. The magazines Southwest Art, Art of the West, U.S. Art, American Artist, and SkyWest have featured Hook's work in cover articles that recognize his importance as a leading American landscape painter. The book, Leading the West by Donald Hagerty, features William Hook as one of the notable influences on the western art scene. In addition, publishers Harper-Collins and North Light have included his work in numerous books written about the contemporary art process in Europe and America. After having attended classes at the Kansas City Art Institute ('65-'66), Hook left his hometown of Kansas City to continue his study of fine art at the University of New Mexico (BFA '70). Hook went on to complete his formal education at the Universita Italiana Per Straniere (Perugia, Italy, '69) and the Art Center College of Design (Los Angeles, CA ('71- '72). Mr. Hook's work is included in many distinctive private and corporate collections worldwide, as well as permanent museum collections including the Denver Art Museum, the Tucson Art Museum, the University of New Mexico Art Museum, the Forbes Museum, NYC, and the Genesee Museum of Sporting Art, NY.


Headshot - Rachel Ivanyi
Rachel Ivanyi

Rachel Ivanyi is a freelance, natural science illustrator, who works on a variety of natural history subjects, but specializes in reptiles and amphibians. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of California at Davis and Graduate Certification in Natural Science Illustration from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Although Ivanyi originally aimed for a career as a wildlife vet, she soon realized that she preferred drawing animals to treating them medically. Her work can be found in a variety of textbooks, science magazines, children's books and field guides. Her clients include National Geographic, Scientific American, McGraw-Hill, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. She is also a Signature Member of Artists for Conservation. A recent project involved creating over 60 images for use in the Kansas City Zoo's new Helzberg Penguin Plaza. Illustrations included coral reef fish ID's, the world's 18 penguins, and a life size leopard seal, to name a few. Samples of her work can be found at www.rachelivanyi.com.


Headshot - Ada Koch
Ada Koch

Raised near Wilmington, DE, Ada Koch won early scholarships to the Delaware Art Museum before studying in Washington, DC and Chicago, IL. Later studies with David De Rousseau of the KCAI and personal studies in the museums of Paris and Rome preceded Koch's exhibitions in various galleries and museums of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Florence, Italy. She has been invited every other year to the Biennale Internazionale (a juried show in Florence, Italy), and was just invited to the premier of the Effetto in Merido, Mexico as part of the United Nations Dialogue Among Civilizations. She currently teaches art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Holy Name School and privately at her studio in downtown Kansas City. Ada is active with several local art organizations including the Kansas City Artists Coalition (board member for 12 years) and the Kansas City Arts Council. Her art is in collections both corporate and private throughout the United States and as far away as Germany and Switzerland.

"I have always preferred the artist's sketch rather than the 'finished work', since a sketch provides the freedom and movement that show the artist's true style. My work provides numerous layers and media but maintains the freedom, fluidity, and fresh playfulness of the sketch; this imparts my passion by showing a quick emotional awakening."


Headshot - Susan Morris
Susan Morris

Susan Morris has a B. A. in Painting & Drawing from Brigham Young University and is a Signature member of the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild. She is also a member of the American Watercolor Association and the National Watercolor Society. She has a strong sense of composition and design, uses rich, bold color, dramatic lighting, and infuses the visual effects of texture in her art. She presents a nostalgic view of the past as she takes ordinary items we usually don't see any more and tells their story. Besides its creation, Susan shares her love of art by teaching, where she is a popular instructor and regularly found in a classroom in the greater Tucson area and has been a guest presenter from elementary school groups to university level workshops. She has received numerous awards for her watercolors and her work can be found in galleries, museums and private collections across the west. Her work can also be found at www.susanmorrisgallery.com and www.UtahArtists.com.


Headshot - Catherine Nash
Catherine Nash

Specializing in Japanese and Western hand papermaking, encaustic painting and mixed media drawing, Catherine Nash is a teaching artist who balances her studio work with artist-in-resident teaching, lectures and workshops across the United States, as well as in professional studios and universities in eight European countries, Australia and Japan. Faculty member of the ASDM Art Institute since its inception, some of her favorite media to teach are drawing, watercolor painting and mixed media. Nash says, "I am truly jazzed by inspiring beginning and more advanced artists to create without fear while learning to truly draw what they see."

Nash has just published an e-book entitled Authentic Visual Voices that, through 28 international one-on-one interviews, explores how artists find their ideas. Her personal artwork has been included by invitation into numerous national and international exhibitions, most recently in England, Bulgaria, and Australia. The landscape, aesthetics and cultures of Japan, the rich gradations and spaciousness of Scandinavian summer night skies, experiences with Native American friends and her explorations into the wilderness of the southwestern deserts have deeply influenced and informed her work. She is a longtime resident of Tucson.


Headshot - Rhonda Nass
Rhonda Nass

As a teenager Rhonda Nass was already bent on becoming an artist, in large part because a high school art teacher said she couldn't be one. She received a degree in art education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. For more than thirty years, she and her husband, Rick, have operated an art/illustration business, now based in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin. Nass works in a highly realistic style, focusing predominately on nature and natural history subjects. Her work is exhibited and collected internationally, including venues such as the Carnegie Mellon University's Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. Her work appears in numerous publications including Atlantic Monthly, Communication Arts, and the textbook, Biology of Plants.

Statement: I came to the southern Arizona desert for the first time to see live examples of the Pima pineapple cactus and night-blooming cereus. Coming from the Midwest, I was struck by a "live-in-the-moment" sense of the desert plants' preciousness and urgency — plants that bloomed seldom and briefly. I watched in awe in the middle of the night as the night-blooming cereus strutted its stuff during its two-hour opening scene. (I would be thrilled if this painting communicated even a smidgen of the beauty of this "queen of the night.") The Pima pineapple cactus specimens that I came to observe and photograph bloomed with great panache only hours before my departure. Both plants showcase what I discovered to be a majesty of the desert.


Headshot - Jay Pierstorff
Jay Pierstorff

Professional Photographer, Jay Pierstorff has spent over three decades in photography including portraits, weddings, commercial and industrial images in both still and video. Today, Jay helps people improve their photography and digital image editing with a number of popular classes geared for photo enthusiasts of all skill levels. Originally born in Idaho, Jay lives year round in Tucson, AZ where he also volunteers at the Desert Museum as a Docent and Raptor Free Flight Narrator. In addition he also works on various photo/video projects.

Jay specializes in teaching digital cameras and media as they bring new power and possibilities to image making. Jay's classes take advantage of the "learn by doing" approach including the popular "Behind the Scenes Photowalk." The Desert Museum provides many unique opportunities for photo enthusiasts to practice their craft while taking classes at the Art Institute.

Jay has experience as a professional photographer, videographer, photographic retoucher, photo lab, sound reinforcement & audio recording technician and professional musician. He brings many traditional skills to modern, digital processes. Jay graduated from the Glen Fishback School of Photography in Sacramento, CA and learned photo retouching at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.

He has worked in photo, video, audio production, computer graphics, website design and other digital media.

Jay's work can be seen by visiting www.JayPierstorff.com or contact him at jay.pierstorff@gmail.com


Headshot - Margaret Pope
Margaret Pope

Margaret began drawing in the mid 1980's while taking a class in scientific illustration at the University of Arizona. She continued to draw taking occasional private and classroom instruction but is mostly self-taught. She has done commissioned work for private individuals, businesses and organizations. In 1997 The Arizona Native Plant Society commissioned her to create a poster of Sonoran Desert wildflowers, the first poster of wildflowers native to the Arizona region of the Sonoran Desert. After creating the poster and because of her love of plants, particularly succulents and native Sonoran Desert plants, her art form of choice has been botanical art. Solo exhibits of her work have been held at Tohono Chul Park and Tucson Botanical Gardens. Margaret's work has been juried into the International Exhibit of the American Society of Botanical Artists of 2009 as well as in other botanical art exhibits in Tucson and Phoenix. She has curated several exhibits for the Desert Legume Project as well as the exhibit "Botanical Art of the Sonoran Desert: Past and Present "co-sponsored by The Sonoran Desert Florilegium Program and the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum Art Institute. In 2008 she began The Sonoran Desert Florilegium Program, a non-profit organization sponsored by the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society, whose mission it is to promote and preserve botanical art of the Sonoran Desert region. Her involvement in this project has led to working with The Desert Legume Project, coordinating the accessioning and archiving of the Botanical Illustration Collection of the University of Arizona Herbarium and teaching botanical art at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Art Institute. Prior to becoming an artist Margaret received a B.S. in Science, from the University of San Francisco and a Masters in Public Health and Nurse-Midwifery from The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She was in the Peace Corps in India from 1965 -1968 and worked as a nurse-midwife on the Navajo Reservation and in Tucson from in 1970 through 1979.


Headshot - Robert Renfrow
Robert Renfrow

Robert Renfrow is an artist who uses photography to interpret the world around him. As an instructor he believes that self-expression and exploration are the essence of photography and a technical command of the camera is simply a means to that end and is not an end in itself. While teaching, Renfrow helps his students to find their unique voice through the medium of photography.

Renfrow attended the Kansas City Art Institute graduating Salutatorian with a B.F.A. in Photography/Video in 1988. He was then awarded a merit Fellowship to attend the University of Arizona where he received an M.F.A. in photography in 1991. He is co-founder of the nonprofit organization Art Research Tours and International Studios, and taught university summer classes for many years at their Florence, Italy studio. Robert is also on the Teaching Artists' Roster of the Arizona Commission on the Arts. He teaches workshops internationally and has been teaching photography for the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Art Institute since its beginning. His works in photography and video have been shown in numerous exhibitions internationally. Websites: www.RobertRenfrow.com and www.RenfrowArt.com


Headshot - John Schaefer
Dr. John P. Schaefer

John P. Schaefer is President Emeritus of the University of Arizona, where he had an active, 21-year career in teaching and research. A conservationist and avid birdwatcher, he helped organize the Tucson Audubon Society and found the Nature Conservancy in Arizona. In addition to his academic and conservation work, Dr. Schaefer enjoys a reputation as a skilled photographer. He and Ansel Adams founded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in 1975. Dr. Schaefer is the author of three bestselling books on photographic techniques, and his photographs have been featured in Arizona Highways and many other publications. In recent years he has concentrated on photographing cacti, plants and flowers. Dr. Schaefer is also an amateur astronomer, a classical music lover, collector of southwestern art, and father of two wonderful daughters.


Headshot - Cathy Sheeter
Cathy Sheeter

Cathy Sheeter is quickly becoming known as one of the premier wildlife and western scratchboard artists of today. Cathy was born in 1979 and grew up in a very remote town in Eastern Oregon, where she was immersed in a community with small town values, rich in ranching, agriculture and open spaces. Animals and the western lifestyle continue to be central components of her life and the focus of much of her art. While Cathy chose to major in animal sciences in college, she never stopped creating art in her free time. In 2002 Cathy moved to Colorado, where she still resides.

Cathy's primary choice of mediums is the non-traditional scratchboard. Scratchboard is regarded by many artists as one of the most difficult mediums to master as it requires excellent drawing skills and attention to fine details. Cathy also enjoys working in graphite pencil, oil paints, color pencil, and pastels from time to time..

Cathy is a founding member and one of the first juried in 'Master Members' (MSA) of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists (founded 2011). She continues to promote and push scratchboard into top wildlife and western art shows nationwide. She has been invited to exhibit her work in many prestigious museums throughout the US as well.

Cathy first started exhibiting her work and entering national juried shows in 2008. That same year Cathy also applied to the prestigious Society of Animal Artists for membership and was delighted to be selected as a signature member (top membership ranking) on her first try. Continuing her journey into the professional art world her list of awards continues to grow each year, as does her list of top tier exhibitions that she is invited to participate in. Her work can be found in private and corporate collections throughout the US and Canada. Cathy's professional associations include: Master Member (and one of the founders) of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists (ISSA), Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists (SAA), and Associate Member of the Women Artists of the West (WAOW).


Headshot - Rick Wheeler
Rick Wheeler

Rick's art education includes studies in drawing and painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he was awarded a scholarship to attend, as well as illustration courses at the San Francisco Academy of Art University. He holds an A.A. degree in graphic design and a B.A. degree in Fine Art from Prescott College, Arizona. He works in a variety of media, including acrylic, oil, watercolor and the unique technique of scratchboard. Likewise, his subject matter covers a range of interests, including landscape, wildlife, and figurative.

As a freelance illustrator, his scratchboard work has been in demand by several U.S. National Parks and Monuments. His gallery work has appeared in several group exhibits, including Artists for Conservation juried member's exhibit (2012), Arts for the Parks, Paint the Parks, and several Guild of Natural Science Illustrators members' exhibits. He was selected to A Century of Sanctuary: The Art of Zion National Park, 2008 earning a "Juror's Award." He's also been invited to participate in the annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art for five consecutive years, 2009-2013.

Rick's other interests include teaching at the Art Institute wing of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, as well as at Prescott College (Tucson campus), and to private students. His work is in the permanent collection of Grand Canyon National Park, St. George Art Museum, Sonoma State University (CA), as well as several private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe.