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What's Up Magazine

Meet The Artists

Feb 28, 2018 07:00AM ● By Brian Saucedo
When the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County announces it’s “Call for Artists” to submit works of art, in various mediums, for its quarterly juried exhibits—shown in conjunction with What’s Up? Media—it is refreshing, rewarding, and a reminder of how much talent exists within our community. The most recent of endeavors was, perhaps, the most diverse yet (and it’s still on exhibit at 201 Defense Highway). As such, we’d like to introduce you to the participating artists in this recent exhibit, themed “Light & Shadow,” which includes oil paintings, pencil drawings, watercolors, and photography. Of the 12 artists, two were voted for honors by attendees of the exhibit reception, held on January 10th; Marie York won “Best in Show” and Betty Pethel earned “Runner-Up.” Our artists discuss their inspirations, artistic backgrounds, and mediums. And if they inspire you to pick up a paintbrush, consider submitting your work to the Arts Council for consideration within the next exhibit. For more information, visit

Karen Elaine Degraffenreid 

“I live in Annapolis, MD in Heritage Harbor. I’m a retired educator who discovered an interest in watercolor after receiving an art class from a friend just after I retired from the school system five years ago. After that I began to be inspired by things I saw in nature and on streets around me. I always had an interest in, and an eye for color, but didn’t realize until recent years that I could actually recreate the images on paper.

“I usually take several photographs of the subject from different angles to later turn into a sketch and finally to a sketch on the watercolor medium. My work is fairly eclectic, ranging from botanicals to semi-abstracts to photo-realism. The style all depends how I ‘see’ it.

“I’ve entered artwork in various shows in and around Annapolis, Maryland, through the Anne Arundel Arts Council and The Annapolis Watercolor Club.

“Each picture I sketch and paint has special meaning for me. Many are sketched from photos I’ve taken on travels within and outside the U.S.

“If I had a golden rule that I’ve learned about watercolor, it would be to not get myself so busy in daily life that I stop painting. I leave my art and supplies out all the time so that even if I only have a short window, I can paint.”

Lisa Briganti Rath

“My primary medium is fine art photography, but I also enjoy watercolor, acrylic, pastel, jewelry, fused glass, mosaic, and silk painting. I like trying new forms of art, and am now dipping my toe in the waters of paper and collage art.

“I have lived in Annapolis for 34 years, and raised my family here. As a child, I first lived in Palo Alto, California, then Springfield, Pennsylvania. Living in each of these locations influences my art.

“My mother was an artist; I remember her sketching me, and teaching me how to use watercolors. I was quite a card maker as a child, and loved the school assignments to make a poster, or draw a cartoon. By second grade, I had decided that when I grew up I wanted to be a mother, a “stewardess” (it was 1966, after all), and an artist. At Denison University, I chose to earn a BFA, with a Theater Performance major, so I studied music, art, dance, film, and theater, along with more mainstream subjects. While my children were young, I took occasional art classes for fun, but once I sent my triplets off to college and the nest was three times as empty, I thought about returning to photography. I joined a MeetUp group, then the Maryland Federation of Art, built a website, and began to be juried into solo and group exhibits.

“As a photojournalistic photographer, I shoot what I come across, what catches my eye. The serendipity of this method creates unique images, and I like to bring the viewer into my world, to see what I see, and how I see it. Macro photography, unusual angles or details, architecture, nature, or landscape are my favorite subjects. 

“I try to skip the ordinary and discover the extraordinary. My art training carries into the compositions I create in photography, whether I’m shooting with my Nikon or my iPhone, so the best camera to shoot with is the one I have with me!”

"My mother was an artist; I remember her sketching me, and teaching me how to use watercolors.”

Anne Sieling 

“I developed a passion for the arts as a small child when my aunts took me to museums, concerts by the BSO, and watched illustrators, and worked in an interior design shop where my Aunt Viv worked as a designer.

 “I took art classes in high school but never really got into it until I was in my twenties and began doing horse portraits in pastel. After a hiatus for children and work, I retired and decided to follow my dream and began taking lessons from teachers at Maryland Hall. I now study at The Chesapeake Fine Arts Academy in Stevensville, Maryland, founded by world-renowned artist Hai Ou Hou. There I take classes and attend workshops given by nationally recognized artists in all mediums. I continually strive to be a better artist.

“I am a member of Maryland Hall for the Arts, the Kent Island Federation of Art, the Mid-Atlantic Plein Air Society, the Maryland Pastel Society, and the Portrait Society of Maryland.

“I work in oil and pastel and do some photography. I am just learning to do watercolor and use it to journal on trips.

“I live in Annapolis with my husband Bill and four cats.

“Photography is my choice in situations like early morning at the racetrack when the horses are being galloped and breezed and the light is just breaking over the horizon, and timber races in the Maryland and Virginia countryside. In other words, when things are moving fast, I photograph them and work on them in my studio.

“My entries in the Art Council exhibit were taken at Saratoga Racetrack—a great place to visit!”

"I developed a passion for the arts as a small child when my aunts took me to museums, concerts by the BSO, and watched illustrators, and worked in an interior design shop where my Aunt Viv worked as a designer.”

Betty Pethel

“I live in Annapolis and though not a native, I’ve enjoyed living in this area for many years.

“I started painting in oil and have continued using this medium almost exclusively. However, I do have art works done in silver point medium and many charcoal drawings on various art papers, particularly during periods of portraiture studies. Painting surfaces have been a wide range of sizes on canvases, on prepared wood surfaces, on gessobord, and selected paper products. I use a wide range of tools, brushes and knives, to accommodate the desired effects for subject matter.

“Art has always been an important part of my life, beginning with childhood poster art that eventually developed into formal academic studies at various fine art institutions. My painting subject matter is wide ranging: studio posed portraiture, still life, landscapes and waterscapes, impressionism and expressionism, and contemporary abstract.”

Stacey Saas

“Watercolor is my medium of choice because the luminous, aqueous effects appeal to me. 
“I grew up in suburban Long Island about an hour outside of NYC. For the past 35 years, I have lived in downtown Annapolis, and for most of these years I have taught high school art in AACPS. 

“There was never a time in my childhood that I wasn’t involved in doing something creative with my hands, often to the detriment of my math grades. It wasn’t until 9th grade that I attended a school with formal art classes. At that point onward, I took every possible art class and then
went on to study art education in college.

 “My passion is ‘plein air’ painting, or painting from life. Boating and camping are two of my favorite pastimes and I always have my paints and easel with me. I feel that when you paint a scene that is in front of you, experiencing it with all of your senses, the image created retains a ‘freshness’ and immediacy not obtained by working from photographs.

"There was never a time in my childhood that I wasn’t involved in doing something creative with my hands.”

“Good composition has to be the backbone of any successful painting. With watercolor, it’s easy to overwork or ‘muddy’ the application of paint so I try to remember the saying, ‘Watercolor is like golf, the fewer strokes the better!’”

Marie York

“My artistic medium is photography. I started with film in the late ’70s and moved to digital photography about 10 years ago.

“I was born in New Hampshire and grew up in Connecticut. I still love returning to New England annually to visit friends and family. I moved to Annapolis in 1978 and now live in Severna Park with a view of the Severn River.

“I can’t recall a time when I didn’t have a passion for the arts. Like many photographers in this area, I took a class with Dick Bond at Maryland Hall when I first came to Annapolis. I have loved photography from then on. I have had so much encouragement from other photographers that I highly respect and because of this, it took me a long time to refer to myself as a photographer.  

“I retired from teaching about five years ago and have had so much more time to pursue my craft. I had my first show less than a year ago and have since had my work in five juried exhibits. These successes have encouraged me to gain confidence and grow artistically.

“I consider myself a beginner. I photograph anything that interests me: the full moon rising, shore birds, a great blue heron in flight, watermen working the waters of the Chesapeake, abandoned houses. I am a curious soul and want to stay that way for a long time yet.  

“I follow a quote by author, Susan Reynolds. ‘The craft isn’t about popularity. It is not a competition. It is walking your own path, finding your true self, and using your gifts to the best of your ability.’ It keeps me appropriately confident, curious, and humble.”

Richard Niewerth

"My medium has always been oil on canvas or panel.
“I grew up in Baltimore City and have a BFA from the Maryland Institute and MA from University of Maryland. I have lived in Anne Arundel County for nearly 40 years, 32 of them in Severna Park. I am a retired Professor of Art from AACC.
 “I have been artistically interested since childhood from doodling with pen and ink drawing and, somewhat later, visiting art museums.  
"I have been artistically interested since childhood from doodling with pen and ink drawing and, somewhat later, visiting art museums.”

“I seek to convey a strong sense of space and place presenting the viewer with a rich interplay of elements across the surface of my canvases. Attention to balance of color and form encourages our eyes to follow my compositions both into and beyond the pictorial field. My work is dynamic and my style at once contemporary and classical in a way that far transcends the representational.”

Lora Collins

“My mediums are oil paint and  sculpting in clay; almost always figurative work or landscapes. 
“I am currently living in southern Anne Arundel County in Churchton, a truly beautiful area! I traveled around a lot as a kid but have made Maryland my home for most of my life.

“It was my mother who was my champion, who saw some artistic talent in me and encouraged me to follow my desire to draw, paint, and, most of all, sculpt. Thankfully, she was a feminist and saw to it that her only daughter went to an art college, MICA, in Baltimore. I was the first in my family’s history to get a degree and I loved every minute of college.
“I was very, very fortunate to get a permanent position as a model maker at the Smithsonian and have just recently retired from a 36-year career making exhibits. 
“I’m a strong portrait artist but since moving to SoCo and joining the Muddy Creek Artists Guild, I have tried landscapes and some other genres of painting. I’m big on gardening, so the Morning

Glories in my yard provided a perfect opportunity to try painting as Georgia O’Keeffe might, with an interesting challenge of how the light and cast shadows affect the colors of the flower and how the simple and organic shapes work. 

 “Most of my inspiration comes from artists I most admire; O’Keeffe, Sergent, Degas, and Toulouse Lautrec to name just a few. 

“There are no golden rules to follow, so we mostly follow our own work styles and habits. As an artist, the hard work is actually pushing ourselves to try to do something differently.”

"It was my mother who was my champion, who saw some artistic talent in me and encouraged me to follow my desire to draw, paint, and, most of all, sculpt.”

Lise Mantha

“My medium is digital photography with post-processing using Lightroom, Luminar, and Aurora HDR software.

“I was born in Nova Scotia, grew up in Oakland, California, and have been calling Annapolis home
for 10 years.

“I have always been drawn to a creative life. Throughout my life, I have had teachers, coaches, family, and friends who inspired and encouraged me to nurture that creativity. I had my first SLR camera as a young adult and fell in love with photography. Years later, during a difficult stage in my life, I spent a few days in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Something about the place and its natural was the first time I imagined doing more with photography.  

“Over the past two years I have developed relationships with local photographers/artists through Maryland Federation of Art & Meetup Groups. This really helped me to open up as an artist and enter juried fine arts exhibits.

“I often let the feel of a place, or feelings it evokes in me, draw me to a subject. It is seldom a plan to go out and photograph a specific subject. I will often revisit places at different times of the year and day, or during/after rain and snow. I spend some time taking everything in, looking for details that capture my attention. I often take several photos with different angles and camera settings to capture the feeling/mood I want in my image.