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Painted. Artist Alliance unites artists from varied styles

Amy Sullivan has been painting since grade school.

As an adult, she’s made a living by decoratively painting walls and ceilings, and recently by painting oils on canvas.

“Painting can be a very lonely endeavor,” said the Madison Park resident. “You’re there by yourself in your own studio. It’s really nice to be able to share the ups and downs with (other artists), to get different ideas.”

Last year, Sullivan joined Painted. Artist Alliance, a group of nine Charlotte painters who paint in different styles but share similar beliefs about working together to exhibit their works and contributing 10 percent of sale proceeds to charity.

As far as they know, they are the only group of painters in Charlotte organized with such a mission.

The alliance painters have different artistic backgrounds, but all of them have been students at Braitman Studio on Monroe Road at one time or another. Some of them have common studios, including one in Myers Park operated by Alliance member Marlise Newman.

Myers Park resident Allison Chambers has been a Braitman student, but she is also one of the studio’s half dozen teachers. She instructs aspiring artists in three-month courses of Fundamentals I and II. Chambers also paints in a section of Newman’s Middleton Drive studio.

The group has organized five exhibits in the past year, including one Nov. 20-22 in the building that houses Newman’s studio. The alliance relies on members to produce a show.

For example, one member might be responsible for marketing. Another might have access to a credit card scanner. And as the only male in the group, Paul Hastings jokes that he is the alliance’s “art mule” because he’s often asked to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

Hastings became a professional artist 15 years ago. He lived in Dilworth for 32 years, but three years ago he moved to South End to take advantage of the neighborhood’s budding art scene. He now lives one block away from the studio he shares with 25 other artists.

The alliance informally referred to its Nov. 20-22 show as its “holiday” show. Prices were discounted to encourage holiday gift-giving. With approximately 400 paintings, the exhibit was the alliance’s largest to date.

Members of the group were pleased with the show’s first day interest. They try to market their exhibits by emailing established contacts and clients, and by using social media.

Robinson Woods resident Helen Richards, a friend of alliance member Libby Smart, showed up twice on the first day.

“I think paintings just warm a room,” said Richards. “There’s some great local talent in the city. And it’s well-priced. After buying something this morning (of Patti Ratcliffe’s), I thought, ‘I have to go back and get one more piece.’ ”

Customer Lynn Weis was already toting around a piece he had decided to purchase from friend Fonda Doerre when his affinity for birch trees drew him to one of Chambers’ paintings.

“I’m drawn to see what other artists in the country do with birch trees,” said Weis. “I’m interested in the contrasting colors. The bark of the tree and the sunlight on it provides some interesting color in an otherwise white or gray background.”

The holiday exhibit raised money for Brookstone Schools, a small Christian school in Charlotte with grades kindergarten through eighth. A couple years ago, Ratcliffe started supporting the school by donating her services as a graphic designer.

Other Painted. Artist Alliance members include Adrian Chu Redmond and Dottie Leatherwood.

In September, several of the group’s painters participated in an exhibit in Atlanta that included teaching painting skills to patients at the children’s hospital of Atlanta. The children’s paintings were then sold at the exhibit and raised money for the hospital.

Another Painted. Artist Alliance show in Charlotte in July helped raise money for the 24 Hours of Booty and the Levine Cancer Institute.

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