Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated in Our Classrooms

Click on images to enlarge

Dawn Smith’s Spanish class and my Visual Art class joined together for a week long unit on creating paintings influenced by Mexican Alebrijes this week at Western Hills High School in Frankfort, Kentucky.  Painting and creative writing combined together for a learning experience in Social Studies, Spanish and Fashion Design.

To learn Global challenges of how to resolve conflicts, students had to work in groups and combine at least 2 animals from 2 different continents. They had to paint the animals, list their conflicts, how the animals could resolve those conflicts and capture these conflict resolutions in their choice of creative writing from poetry to dialogue to narrative writing. The writing portion was inspired by the book “Fantasy Animals” by Janis Kirstein, where a South American anteater and African lion are joined together and have to learn how to get along. This book was inspired by Mexican Alebrijes from Mexico, created with bright floral patterns in the 1930’s of conglomerations of various animals all in one being.

To see lesson plans for this unit,  go to:  https://kirsteinfineart.com/2016/07/27/lesson-plan-for-fantasy-animals/

To see the book written by Janis Kirstein inspired by Alebrijes,  go to: www.amazon.com/author/janiskirstein







This Painting was inspired by Mexican Alebrijes, by Janis Kirstein in Mercedes Harn’s art class this summer. This class was for a teacher Inservice given by The Academy with the Kentucky Center for the Arts, combining the teaching of Social Studies, Visual Art and Spanish Language.



Collector’s Choice: Erin Ashley



“Art has the power to make one see things in a new light. It helps us see the beauty in things that some may overlook, or take for granted. As an artist, inspiration comes to me in many forms. I see so much beauty in old weathered things. A new life that hides behind an old, waiting to be discovered. Layers of chipped paint, rusted metals and old buildings- they excite me and spark new ideas within me.

I begin my work without any preconceived ideas at all what the finished work is going to look like. I like the idea of each painting being a journey, ending at a beautiful destination. My paintings are made with lots of color and textures, bringing out the old with the new.

I am a self taught full-time artist with a desire to create, capture and preserve a true beauty of art in each painting – in hopes to create a happy escape for the viewer.”  Erin Ashley





Color Made Easy magazine 2016, Professional Artist magazine 2013, American Artist 2013, Better Homes and Gardens/Color Made Easy magazine 2014, Studios magazine 2013, Art.com magazine publications – Holiday 2015, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Summer 2014 and Art.com Holiday 2014, San Francisco Chronicle 2013, American Airlines/Sky Mall magazine 2013 and 2014, Cover of 2012 Liberated Dreams gallery book front cover including posters and banners, Arte Energia Creativa gallery 2014 art book / Italian Art Journal magazine 2014, Rivier Art magazine 2013, Surround magazine publications for 2014 inside front cover, Holiday 2014 Spring 2015 and Holiday 2015, Front Cover and spread for Better Homes & Gardens REFRESH magazine 2015, Art Hive magazine 2015, Birmingham Arts Journal 2016, Cover of Utrecht magazine Spring 2016, Bravo TV network “Million Dollar Listing”San Francisco, HGTV show Flip Or Flop, Painting shown behind the scenes on The Rosie O’Donnell show airing on the Opera’s Winfrey network, HGTV Design on a Dime show held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC , Best Of Fall Designs NY 2013, Primorske Novice 2015 and currently Published on art products for Dick Blick Art supply stores nation wide.

Erin Ashley’s work has appeared in several galleries in the US, Italy and solo exhibitions. Erin has been commissioned by several fortune 500 companies such as Cartoon Network, Time Warner editing studios, Blick Art Corporate headquarters Chicago and many other prestigious companies and designers worldwide.


Erin  currently lives in Florida with her very talented artist husband, two beautiful children and our dog Toby.  “I am a true christian believer in God for he has transformed my life in the most amazing ways.Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

“No matter what you are facing today, I want to encourage you…When you decide to not give up and put your whole trust in Christ, you pave the way for greater things to happen for you, in you and through you! ” – Joel Osteen








Erin Ashley’s work is bold, rough, textured and dynamic. Her paintings carry the energy and verve of the best of street painting, along with the emotional impact of artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Yet her paintings formed from softer colors hold an atmospheric sense of serenity, hope and rebirth. Janis Kirstein






Call to action: For more of these inspiring features of some of today’s very best working contemporary artists, subscribe to KIRSTEINFINEART at the bottom of this page.

Collector’s Choice: Gray Artus



imageThe necessity to create is an obvious driving passion immediately visible when seeing Gray Artus’ work for the first time. His paintings and  photographs reveal a deep urgency to express profound feelings and evoke hidden longings.  Each piece, whether a photograph of a North Carolina beach after dusk, or a painted bird at rest in its natural habitat, conveys the mystery of the intangible behind the visible. 

Artus Grey is a largely self-taught artist currently living in Asheville, North Carolina. His ability to capture human emotion through passages of stark contrast and subtle texture overlays carries his pieces from the obvious subject and beyond, into a deeper dream state, where one feels the reality of the vision with an incessant ache.





I lost myself so long ago… I chased plastic dreams I thought would bring happiness. Where did the time go? I lost myself in this world and at times I lost my mind… When I paint I find it again and my thoughts are so clear.
I paint to have freedom… Freedom from this world of falling short of others expectations… Freedom from the anxiety that oppressed me and formed me into a soul that was unrecognizable.

I am a photographer to see… see the beauty in this world. There are days it’s hard to find but I see it… it’s there in a sunrise or maybe in a smile.
I am a photographer to see… see the loneliness in the world. It’s never hard to find… A teardrop falls silently to the earth.
I am an artist because there are no words to express how I feel.
I am an artist created to be free…my soul soars… it’s the way God created me.


I am Gray Artus a painter, photographer and fine artist from Asheville, North Carolina. This is just my self diagnosis but I must have ADD. I jump from photography to painting then to a different painting and back again. Its an endless circle of creativity here!
Art is what I think about when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night and all day in between… its my passion!
Artus’ work is currently displayed nationally and internationally in private collections and has been used as album art and on various regional websites. 
You can view his work at Fineartamerica.com at the link at the top of the page.


Click on the Subscribe button at the bottom of the page to join www.kirsteinfineart.com for more inspiring stories on the fine arts, including more Collector’s Choice pieces.