Hot Springs and the surrounding area are home to many talented artists who work in a variety of mediums and styles.
HER has put together a list of just a few of the female artists currently working and showing in the area:
Nina Louton, of Hot Springs, focuses her work on painting, pottery and sculpture. Louton’s interest in art was inspired by her family. Her mother, who was half Cherokee, often had to make things the family needed, and Louton would work beside her.
As a child, she remembers going to her grandmother with what she
thought was mud on her feet. Her grandmother explained it was clay. They collected some and created a pot. Louton has been hooked ever since.
She paints in all mediums, but oil is her favorite. She also does a lot of watercolors.
Her sculptures tend to be small, no more than 4 or 5 feet, with subjects including leaves, apartment buildings, “silly buildings,” animals and anything she decides to create.
Louton has worked as an artist since 2000, but got serious when she bought her studio Art By Nina, located at 110 and 114 Mountain View St.
She also works and shows at Artist Workshop Gallery, 610 Central Ave.
Louton is a member of the Traditional Art Guild, the Fine Arts Center, Arkansas Arts Art Registry and Arts in Education. Through her membership in Arts in Education, she is a part of Arkansas Learning Through the Arts, which allows her to teach arts in her studio and local schools.
“I think art is essential in education because it uses a different part of the brain and opens the brain more to academics,” Louton said.
Louton, who has a master’s degree in education and a minor in art from Henderson State University, is a retired teacher from the Mountain Pine School District, the last 10 years in special education. She said she has seen children change through art.
Photographer Melanie McKnight works out of her studio at 1466 Cones Road, where she also does monogramming and embroidery.
Her work focuses on portraits for families, children, seniors, couples and engagements. She said every person has a story. She wants to create something that her customers can hand down to their families.
“I take pride in each and every person that comes in to see me,” McKnight said.
She enjoys getting to know her clients and building a relationship with them.
She has been in business for 17 years, which she said has been like living a dream. She started Melanie McKnight Photography while she was pregnant with her second child.
McKnight said photography was always something she wanted to do. When she was 11 years old, her parents bought her a roll of film each week and she would photograph everything — insects, rocks, birds.
Her parents would get the film developed. “The crazy things I took pictures of, and I still have some of the those pictures,” McKnight said.
Jan Briggs, an artist from Mountain Pine, paints in both oil and watercolor, and works in pen and ink. She also paints aluminum with oil. She also creates unique pieced watercolor art that builds a 3-D style image effect. While she works in a variety of mediums, she said she does not mix them.
She likes to have the option to change what she is working in; if she is
stuck or tired of one she can just switch to something different.
“A lot of people don’t realize that when they buy or look at art, they are looking at the artist because they put so much of themselves in each piece,” Briggs said.
Her art has been focused lately on animals and water, things she said that “may not be here for our grandchildren.”
Briggs, who said she had always liked to draw, went back to school when she was in her 50s to get her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Henderson State University. She has been a working artist since the year 2000.
She previously worked as substitute teacher, tutor and in the migrant education program in the Mountain Pine School District. She also worked as a display artist for the Arkansas Gazette.
She works and shows at The Artist’s Workshop Gallery, 610 Central Ave., where she is the featured artist for the month of September.
Briggs is the vice president of the Traditional Art Guild, a member of the Ouachita Artist Guild and Gallery and the Three Rivers Art Guild. Some of her art will be on display throughout September at Garvan Woodland Gardens as part of the Traditional Artists Guild The People’s Choice art competition.
Phyllis Eddy, owner of the Half Shell Art Gallery and Custom Framing, 4656 Highway 7 north, Suite A, Hot Springs Village, creates abstract pieces in a variety of mediums ranging from carving oyster shells for jewelry to working in alcohol ink.
One unique art form she enjoys working with is what she calls “painting copper with fire.”
She enjoys doing abstract because she said she is not tied to one idea, but can shift the art as she is creating it.
“I am not your typical artist,” Eddy said.
She loves to try whatever comes into her mind from painting with her hands, paper towels or spoons to mixing lipstick with paint to create a particular look. Most of her techniques she discovered by just playing.
Eddy said she opened the gallery two years ago after receiving a vision from God. After its opening she realized she was continuing the passion of both her mother and mother-in-law, who were artists.
She is a member of Brushstrokes in Hot Springs Village and her gallery was voted Best Art Gallery by the Village Voice.