Kristy Bishop: Confidently creative

(Photo by Sharyn Flanagan)

(Photo by Sharyn Flanagan)

Longtime Saugerties resident Kristy Bishop is well known around town as a supportive and nurturing art teacher who brings out the inner creative spirit in both kids and adults. But don’t look for her on Main St. anymore: Bishop recently relocated her home and studio to 147 Market St. in the village. She’s excited about making a fresh start there, she says, but one thing that won’t change is her emphasis on providing a positive atmosphere and plenty of encouragement to her students.

Another constant will be the annual art show of student work, to be held this year at the Dutch Ale House at 253 Main St. This will be the 24th annual exhibition that Bishop has organized for her budding artists. The theme this time around will be “Transportation.” (Bishop’s own pastel rendition of a 1958 Cadillac will be included in the show.)Longtime Saugerties resident Kristy Bishop is well known around town as a supportive and nurturing art teacher who brings out the inner creative spirit in both kids and adults. But don’t look for her on Main St. anymore: Bishop recently relocated her home and studio to 147 Market St. in the village. She’s excited about making a fresh start there, she says, but one thing that won’t change is her emphasis on providing a positive atmosphere and plenty of encouragement to her students.

An opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 3 from 4–6 p.m. Awards will be given out at 5 p.m. The exhibit remains on view through Monday, June 30, during regular restaurant hours, daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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The adult artists participating in the show are Agnes Barber, Patrick Buonfiglio, Ruth Bach-Dhondy, Teresa Herzog, Awilda Jimenez, Phyllis McCabe, Donna Newkirk, Mary Rell, Michael Saporito and Patricia Steyer along with Bishop.

The junior artists range in age from eight through 11. They are Mark Danza (11), Sage Fanelli (10), Sydney Henson (10), Kyla Misasi (11), Matthew Morgan (11), Caitlin O’Brien (11), Amrita Raval (9), Etolie Steinlage (11), Autumn Stever (13) and Cassidi Vedder (8).

Over the years, says Bishop, she has guided more than 1,000 beginning art students through the process of learning to draw and paint. They’ve been as young as six years old and her student roster currently boasts an octogenarian, Patrick Buonfiglio.

The spiritually guided Bishop says that teaching art has been one of the main purposes in her life since she began giving lessons in Saugerties in 1977. “I can tell you that I look forward to every class that I teach. It is amazing to watch the progress of people who did not know that they had talent but gave themselves permission to find out.”

Bishop believes in encouraging children to develop their creativity at a young age. Young artists, she says, also need to be able to speak in public about their artwork and have the ability to explain the process that went into it. Bishop has been a member of the Kingston-Rhinebeck Toastmasters Club since 2008, an affiliation that has inspired her to encourage confident public speaking and leadership skills in her students.

Bishop provides supplemental activities for her students to broaden their knowledge of art. Her new studio has a large television screen that was put to good use recently for “Dinner and a Movie” night when young students and their parents ate pizza and watched a film about the American Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt. Bishop plans to continue the series for her students to encourage their artistic development.

And she likes to involve the parents with the children’s activities at the studio. “We play art games where the parents learn art terms and techniques to be able to answer questions correctly and garner points along with their children toward winning small trophies as prizes. This way, when the families go to the annual art shows, they have a better understanding of what goes into a painting and have a greater appreciation of the whole program. Everyone learns how to frame artwork properly, too.”

When it comes to her adult students, Bishop says, “they’re not afraid to give me constructive criticism on my approach to teaching. I respect their opinions and understand that it is out of wisdom that they guide me so lovingly.”

Bishop’s adult student Michael Saporito is a professional photographer, but says that he wasn’t sure when he began taking classes whether he could learn the skills to paint a picture. “I didn’t know how to mix colors, what brushes to use or even how to hold them.” But after a few classes with Bishop, he says, “things started to take shape in the painting I was working on and I was pleased with the results. Her technique and painting tips for whatever medium we are working in are very helpful and produce quick results.” Saporito cited Bishop’s “non-judgmental attitude” as making class time “fun and rewarding.”

The adult classes participate in extracurricular activities, too, going to galleries and talks by other artists as a group.

“I don’t understand why it is so exciting to push paint or pastel around on a surface,” says Bishop, “yet I am most happy when I do it. The others at my studio feel the same way.”

Kristy Bishop was born in 1951 in Fort Fairfield, an area of northern Maine known for its fertile potato-producing soil. Her parents came from generations of farmers, but they appreciated Kristy’s artistic abilities early on and arranged for her to take private art lessons.

By 1973, Bishop had moved to Saugerties and was studying art at the Art Students League in Woodstock (located at the time in the buildings that now house Woodstock School of Art). While teaching Sunday School at Grace Community Church in Lake Katrine in 1977, Bishop’s aptitude for working with young children prompted an observer to suggest she give art lessons to kids.

Bishop opened her studio doors in Saugerties to teach and has never looked back.

And she still studies art herself. “I go for art classes with other artists, too. I study oil painting with Mary Anna Goetz and others so that I can learn more, but also to feel what it is like to be a student so that I can be a better teacher.”

Teaching comes naturally for her, Bishop says, “but a real mentor needs to be capable of instilling confidence in the student. I am passionate concerning my mission as a teacher.”

As a person guided by her spirituality, Bishop seeks out the uplifting. She wrote a newspaper column profiling inspiring and aspiring artists for years: “Kristy’s Kreative Kids,” which began at the Saugerties Post Star in the mid-1990s and later moved to the pages of Saugerties Times under then-editor Vern Benjamin.

Bishop has one daughter, Stacey, 32, who lives in the Albany area and works in the healthcare field.

The Kristy Bishop Studio at 147 Market St. is open by appointment only. For more information about classes, call (845) 246-8836, email kristy@kristybishopstudio.com or visit www.KristyBishopStudio.com.