Collector’s Choice: Shelley Davies

The artist

Shelley was born in east London, daughter to a jazz trumpeter and a tap-dancer. One of four sisters, she regularly skipped school to draw and paint in the local forest, understanding at an early age the relevance of both art and the great outdoors to her future life.

She studied for four years in London, at Camberwell School of Art, undertaking a painting commission for The London Palace Theatre while a student, and receiving a Crafts Council Graduate award in her first job as assistant designer/maker for John Hinchcliffe, carrying out design contracts for Saks New York, Selfridges and Habitat.


Moving on to work as a designer and stylist for several West End companies, notably Courtaulds, Pomme and Christy’s, she began to develop her own practice as a designer/maker, working to commission and exhibiting across southern England.

Alongside her own creative practice, Shelley became involved in working with young people interested in the arts, co-ordinating an inspirational project in West Sussex involving music, writing and the visual arts, then moved on to working motivationally with adults.


The arrival of children saw a change in direction, pure painting and drawing became more significant and in addition, experiments with clay began to take shape as a complement to the two-dimensional work.

Her work now reflects both the presence and absence of tranquility in her life – she experiments with the play of light and shade, the beauty of line and, through ceramics, the complexity of surface pattern, her subject matter extending from European urban and rural landscapes to still life and figure studies. Future work will see a move towards further unifying these eclectic influences.


Now Shelley works from her two studios in Bristol, is a member of Jamaica Street Artists, North Bristol Artists and Bristol Fringe, has exhibited at the RWA and continues exhibiting as widely as family demands allow, showing work in London, France and the south-west of England.

She works increasingly to commission and also takes part in several community projects which provide her with the stimulus she required to continue enjoying and developing her work.

Some of her projects also include:

Lighting Up – Art for people suffering from people with Alzheimers, Bristol

Art in the Park – Annual Bristol children’s community art exhibition

Colston’s School Mosaic – a whole-school installation to celebrate the abolition of Bristol’s slave trade


“Fantasy Animals”: Coming Soon!

Children’s Story coming to soon, written and illustrated by Janis Kirstein.  You don’t want to miss this!



In a  world of conflict and division, this is the story of two very unlikely animals who are born literally joined at the hip. Their life journey and close proximity force these two creatures to learn to get along, or they will not survive the Amazon jungles of their village home.


This unlikely pair are born together in the tradition of the Mexican Alebrijes, which are brightly colored Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures originating from the paper mache- and/or-wood carved adaptions which were pioneered by Arrazola, a Mexican craftsman in the 1930’s. Miraculously enough, this is the story of an Alebrijie that actually comes to life as an African Lion and a South These two animals have no choice but to learn the lessons of cooperation and understanding which results in appreciation and shared love. Through their newly gained empathy and understanding, they begin to resolve their frustrating differences through a multitude of hilarious adventures. This children’s story provides a humorous example of two characters forced to live together as one and how they grow from a place of constant irritation with one another to a new place of understanding, flexibility and love.

Many links to lesson plans and relevant information for classroom teachers will be included.


I am am almost ready to push the publish button on Amazon, so stay tuned!


Lesson plan link coming soon!



An art piece based on the inspiration of the Mexican Alebrijes, or brightly colored animals made in the 1930’s.







Magical Tote Bags



Magical Dresses





Magical Tops




Other Magical Items

Click on thumbnails to enlarge



lama-pajama     51mv1xuuql-_sl210_jpeg

Collector’s Choice: Donne Bitner



“My new body of work incorporates monotypes, oil pastel, oil stick, charcoal, and acrylic paint.

Although subject matter will vary, my intent is to follow the mark – to layer and strip away and find the hidden texture and meaning of a piece.
It’s painting




Donne won Best of Show for the 2006 Winter Park Autumn Art Festival. Morris Mitchell, from the Ringling Museum of Art who was a judge at the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival quoted, “Talent and creativity are not the same. You can teach someone to draw but not to be creative. Creativity is when the magic happens.”

Donne won Best of Show for the 2006 Mount Dora Arts Festival. The judges comment that, “Donne Bitner’s work is complex. The images are layered with textures that mest to give her works a unique voice which makes its own statement. This subtle quality is reflected not only in the chosen work but also in all the works in her booth. Her visual strength is beautifully connected to the best of contemporary art.”




Donne Bitner graduated with honors from Penn State University with a degree in Art and has been a full-time studio artist for the last 15 years.

She is currently an instructor at Crealde School of Art in watercolor, monotypes, and experimental acrylics and maintains a studio at McRae Art Studio in Winter Park, Florida.






Her work is exhibited in museum shows and art festivals throughout the United States and has appeared in a variety of publications including American Artist Watercolor Magazine, International Artist, and Watercolor Magic.




Donne’s artwork can be found in the collections of the Huntsville Museum of Art, Springfield Art Museum, Gulf Coast Center for the Arts, Vero Beach Center for the Arts, Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences, Maitland Museum of Art, Rollins College, State of Florida Capital Collection, Holmes Medical Center, Cape Canaveral Hospital, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, and the cities of Atlanta, Orlando, and Melbourne.

She is a signature member of both the National Watercolor Society and Florida Watercolor Society, a member of the Watercolor USA Honor Society, a recipient of a Florida Individual Artist’s Fellowship in 2002, and a recipient of a Professional Development Grant from United Arts of Central Florida in 2010.





For more of these informative features about the best contemporary artists working today, subscribe to KIRSTEINFINEART. Just go to the bottom of this page and click the subscribe button.

Collector’s Choice: Rick Bennett

“I think I do better painting when I’m calm, and meditation is definitely helpful for that. For me painting can be a kind of meditation in itself: not always, but the best painting sessions for me are when I’m totally focused on the process, and get into a completely intuitive state of mind. I don’t actually “think” about colors or brush marks or shapes, I just do it—or it just happens. Of course a lot of times painting can be frustrating and disappointing but for me the best times are the most meditative.”

Rick Bennett





Rick Bennett: About the Artist


Rick Bennett is a nationally known artist whose works reside in over one-hundred public, academic, corporate, and private collections as far west as Los Angeles and as far east as New York City. The artist’s paintings have received many national and regional awards including the Wiesberg award for realist painting and the Norman Kolhepp award for painting. Bennett has recently been chosen for the upcoming publication Indiana Artists of the 21st Century




Selected Collections


Sidley, Austin, Brown, and Wood New York, NY.
College of Mt. St. Vincent, New York, NY.
Hoyt Institute of Fine Art, New Castle, PA.
Brown Forman Corporation, Louisville, KY.




Dolgen Corporation, Atlanta, GA.
Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Louisville, KY.
In Flux, Taunton, MA.
BellSouth Corporation, Louisville, KY.
Nanjing Academy of Fine Arts, Nanjing, China.





Kosair Children’s Hospital, Louisville, KY.
Mallor Bordner and Miller, Bloomington, IN.
Ventas Corporation, Chicago, IL.
Aesthetics in Jewelry, Louisville, KY.
Mayan Gypsy, Louisville, KY.




Ogden, Newell, and Welch, Louisville, KY.
Van Hoose and Associates, Lexington, KY.
Centre College, Danville, KY
Hanover College, Hanover, IN.
F.B.N. Productions, Lexington, KY.




To me, the common thread that holds all of Rick Bennet’s work together is an incredible sense of presence with the entire universe that prevails in each image or object, whether ceramic piece, oceanscape or pattern exploration. The unique quality of “Being There” rises through the quiet emergence of shifting light in translucent ripples of the ocean bed, in the repetition of seemingly simple patterns, in the harmonious curve of a clay vessel.

All of his work radiates a centeredness most uncommon in our collective human consciousness. This contemplative awareness, often elusive in our day to day existence is revealed in his work. So many of us rarely glimpse these moments of centered awareness in our lives often spent pursuing the frantic business of living.

If you take the time to slow down, and allow the work to enter your consciousness, you will be taken beyond space and time to a place of immeasurable inner peace.

Written by Janis Kirstein

I would like to give special thanks to Ric Bennett for allowing me to feature his art work on KIRSTEINFINEART.

img_7342-1Call to Action: For more informative features on the finest contemporary artists working today, please subscribe to the KIRSTEINFINEART Blog “Collector’s Choice.” Just go to the bottom of this page and click on the subscribe button. Enter your name and email. Thanks so much!

Artist Conundrum Continued

Fine art by Hildy Maze

Here are some thoughts from fine artist Hildy Maze of East Hampton, NY.

How do you handle the high costs of submitting,showing, shipping and framing (if your work needs framing)?

For a couple of years I spent a small fortune submitting,framing, and shipping until I could no longer afford to submit beyond my immediate area. I find it to be a catch-22 when a gallery (in my area) says, I’ll give you a show if you can do all the framing. At the moment I’m considering ways to do this. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of these submissions for shows around the country are not the way to go. Sales are few to none. I question whether these kinds of juried, group shows are beneficial to the work. True,it looks good on a c.v., but the cost is too high.
How extensive is your presence on the web?

My presence on the web is extensive. Although time consuming, it is a way to share the work with others. I submit not only to the most obvious like Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinerest, Twitter, I’ve found various blogs that a suitable to the work I do as well as on-line magazines. No sales have come from this, but making art is about communication so I look for anyway that this can be accomplished.
From your experience… can you list some ways you connect with a gallery and/or collectors?

The gallery I’m with…sort of (that’s a whole other story) found me. Any effort to connect with a gallery through email was probably deleted before opened. Very difficult, even with galleries that say they accept submissions. I have no idea how or where to find collectors.
How do you network on the web and in the “real” world?

On the web I network through Facebook,Tumblr,Twitter,Pinerest,Instagram,Artstack,Niume,Flickr, and several others . I keep them all up-to-date. I often ask myself, considering the time consumption,’why am I doing this’? But I continue. In the “real” world I hardly network at all which is my weak point. I’m told this is very important.
If you have received  a grant would you be willing to share any ideas about grant writing?

I have applied to several grants, have received none…..but I will not give up! Grants are difficult and take some kind of special skill to
write which I continually work on but have not achieved. Some you can simply apply, others require being nominated, then you’re invited
to apply. If anyone has any experience with how to write a grant I would appreciate your knowledge.

Best of luck to us all!
Hildy Maze



Collector’s Choice: 100 Posts!

Art by Janis Kirsteinimage






Thanks for being a loyal email subscriber to my Fine art blog “Collector’s Choice” with KIRSTEINFINEART . I just want to make sure you know that I always appreciate hearing from you. Please Let me know if you ever have any questions. My email is Or just message me on my website.
The purpose of this message is to update you on some thoughts I have had about the “Collector’s Choice Blog, it’s purpose and potentialities.













Also, I have a number of questions for you, my readers that I would love for you to answer. Don’t worry, these questions will be brief.

First, I want to share my thoughts with you about the purpose of this blog.
Thanks so much to all the artists who have so generously shared your work with all of us on this blog, “Collector’s Choice.” I am so excited to create these artist features. I had no idea there were so many exceptional artists working today. At first when I began this daily feature of a contemporary artist every day, I worried that I would run out of artists to feature.

I now see that that will not be a problem anywhere in the near future.

With each artist feature, I wanted to showcase the work of each artist, along with a description of the work, the process, artist intention and thoughts, and a bit about the artist. What I have discovered in doing this is that there are so many artists EVERYWHERE who are deserving of this honor.

I believe that artists are so often overlooked and under appreciated. I know, as I have spent the last 30 years working as an artist. And in this land of challenging times, artists and their creative spirit form one of our very most valuable resources for survival, recovery and enlightenment.

I hope that my blog can become a testimonial to that belief and faith.












Now, I would like to ask you a few brief questions and would love your feedback on a few questions that some of the featured artists have discussed. I only have a few questions here, so don’t run away now! These 5 questions have been posed by Abstract Painter Hildy Maze who lives and works as an artist in Easthampton, NY. As we began discussing these questions, we realized all the artists featured on this blog would probably have a wealth of experience and information to share. And probably, it is our hope that many of you would like to hear other’s thoughts on these questions.

If you are an artist, please answer from personal experience. If you are not an artist, please answer from your own perspective.







  1. How do you handle the high costs of submitting,showing, shipping and framing (if your work needs framing)?

  2. How extensive is your presence on the web?

  3. From your experience… can you list some ways you connect with a gallery and/or collectors?

  4. How do you network on the web and in the “real” world?

  5. If you have received a grant would you be willing to share any ideas about grant writing?

    Perhaps you do not have time to answer all of these questions, right now. But if you will give it some thought, then return any of your own personal answers to me by email, I will compile some of the information and post it as a blog.

Thanks so much for all your ideas and thoughts. I think we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.

My email again is

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful summer! And don’t forget to be sure to get in a swim or two!

Best wishes,

Jan Kirstein