Our instructors

Chris Bittner

Chris Bittner is a lifelong resident of State College. Chris graduated from Penn State having taken courses in art history and sculpture. His primary medium is carving abstract/non-representational forms in wood. Chris has collected blocks of local hardwoods for his material. Additionally, Chris has carved plaster, soapstone, and also cast some sculptures in bronze. Chris currently teaches soapstone carving in local schools and at the Art Alliance of Central PA.

Beverly Crow

Beverly has a BS in Art Education from Penn State University. Her passions are kids and art! Currently she is using her creative talents as a para-professional in a 2nd grade classroom at Easterly Parkway Elementary. Beverly is also a local artist who paints furniture, does portraits, and designs unique pieces of jewelry.

Susan Nicholas Gephart

Influenced by her artist father, Susan Nicholas Gephart developed a deep appreciation of the earth and its relationship to art when she was a young child. Her passion to explore the landscape is expressed through a unique use of color, texture, and atmosphere, capturing the emotion of a moment with spontaneity and directness. Susan is a 1979 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate of the Pennsylvania State University. She has been exhibiting and painting award-winning landscapes for over forty years and balanced raising three children while perusing an art career. Her colorful, impressionistic plein air pastels and oils are in private and permanent collections across the country.

Susan is an Associate Member of the Pastel Society of America, and a past president and Signature Member of the Central Pennsylvania Pastel Society. She also co-founded the Plein Air Painters of Central PA.

Susan spreads her love of creating art in nature to all ages through her teachings. She has been instructing pastels since the mid 80’s, and organizing the Hameau Farm Studio Artist Retreats—now in its 19th year—for all levels and mediums. All of Susan’s workshops are supported by top national art supply companies, allowing her students to sample a variety of fine art products. Her workshops are advertised in Pastel Journal and PleinAir Magazine, and her art is advertised in Fine Art Connoisseur.

Jennifer Kane

Jennifer Kane is a contemporary artist working in Central Pennsylvania and Southern California. She studied art, science, and theater at the University of Illinois, graduating with a BFA and MFA before moving to the State College area, where she has a dual career as a costume designer and conservation artist.

Recent work is informed by her study of climate change, featuring new ways of using materials to physically interpret her subject and observations. The resulting mixed media works on paper were accepted into the main division of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in 2018. This was Jennifer’s 15th year as a participating artist at the festival, where she has been an award winning invited artist.

Jennifer’s other current abstract works include ‘Into the Future’, a digital landscape series about construction and destruction from her own on-site photos of concrete, and ‘Access Series’, colorful portraits of utility access portals with a corresponding essay about American access to power and sanitation.

Jennifer was chosen to represent Joshua Tree National Park for the 2017-18 season, where she wrote and led an immersive, art-based interpretive program serving park-goers of all ages from around the world. She would like to thank Michael Mann (Climatologist and geophysicist, currently director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University), and Chris Forest (Professor of Climate Dynamics Associate Director, Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management at PSU) for their support and contributions to her climate work.


Alice Kelsey

Alice Kelsey is a full-time artist working primarily in oil and pastel in a colorful and expressive abstract impressionist style. Kelsey’s work is exhibited regularly and receives awards in national juried exhibitions, and is recognized with signature membership in the Maryland and Central Pennsylvania Pastel Societies. She was recently selected by the Palmer Museum of Art as a featured artist for the museum’s Gala Event, and her work exhibited in solo shows at the Pennsylvania State University, The Bellefonte Art Museum, and Lancaster Galleries, as well as an Invitational Exhibit at the Art Association of Harrisburg. Examples of her work can be seen at www.alicekelsey.com.

Kelsey grew up in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Westtown School. She received a B.A. degree from Hamilton College, focusing on biology and art, and an M.D. degree from Michigan State University. She lives with her family on a small farm in Centre County, and enjoys hiking, gardening, guitar, and flyfishing in addition to her passion for painting.


Carrie Koch

Carrie Koch has been teaching summer camps for several years. She loves introducing younger artists, especially, to a variety of media within a fun theme. Carrie graduated from Penn State with a BS in Elementary Education and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction as a Reading Specialist. Art is a passion, not a field of study. While acrylics are her current favorite, she is also a fan of pastels, clay, paper mache, watercolors, and whatever media if the most fun for budding artists.


Isabel Kumerz

Isabel Kumerz is a Spanish painter living in State College PA. Before coming to the US she earned a BFA in Graphic Design in Germany and worked as a Graphic Designer in Barcelona, Spain. She received a Masters of Fine Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2007, and began her teaching career here at the Art Alliance. She enjoys creating her own artwork, viewing other artist¹s work, and teaching Art to adults. Not only does she take pleasure in sharing her knowledge about art techniques, abstraction and the creative process, but also she wants her students to experience art and understand how much it affects their lives.

She teaches painting with acrylics, but not in the traditional way. Her teaching approach is focus on the creative process, helping students to lose their fears of doing wrong, to take risks experimenting and to learn how to express them selves visually.


Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Ingrid is Swedish-Cuban-American and moved to State College in 2014. She's your printmaking teacher! She teaches printmaking courses, pop-ups, weekend workshops and holds the Printmaking Open Studio on Sunday evenings. Ingrid began her career as a photographer publishing several books on China and Chinese culture and working in publishing and the travel industry in Asia and Sweden for over 25 years. She also taught K-12 art in China. For the past 5 years she shifted to printmaking, studying with the Open College of the Arts in the UK. She creates monoprints and monotypes, collagraphs and relief prints.


Class in Session

Class in Session

Mary Shay McGuire

Mary started learning pen and ink at a very young age from her aunt and mother first and then in college with the famous writer and artist Tomie dePaola. Mary graduated from Newton College of the Sacred Heart (Boston College). She studied painting in Paris at L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière and Atelier Lhote and as a young artist taught art in New York City, where she had her first show. Her work has won prizes and is in private collections in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Mary also has an MFA in writing poetry and taught in the PSU English Department for 12 years. She was a member of the Potters' Guild in Lemont and a pottery teacher here in State College and for the HUB at PSU. Mary was past Executive Director of the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania and is a life time member of the Art Alliance Potters' Guild.

Mary also paints in acrylic and has shown those paintings with the Art Alliance's outreach program coordinated by Brenda Horner and Marie Doll.

Mary now teaches pen, ink and watercolor classes as well as Greeting Card pop up classes at the Art Alliance.


Julia Nelson

Giving people the opportunity to create is very important to Julia Nelson. She has been creating art herself since she was a little girl. Julia graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a BA in art then taught art classes to adults and children at the Worcester Art Museum. She earned her MFA in Studio Teaching from Boston University and headed out to New Hampshire, teaching in the elementary school system there. She moved to State College with her husband about 20 years ago and began working in Mount Nittany Middle School as an art teacher.

Whether you’re 8 or 80, Julia believes we’re always on a journey of art making. Her own work has evolved from illustrating objects to Calligraphy to abstract fabric collage. She is constantly on the search for new artists and new ways of looking and making. She loves listening to her students and helping them on their own artistic journeys. She teaches Architecture Your Way for adults and various youth classes at the Art Alliance.

Nicole Packard

Nicole is a Penn State graduate with a BS in Art Education and a BFA in Drawing and Painting. Currently Nicole is working toward completing her MPS in Art Education at Penn State. She teaches 6th grade art class at Park Forest Middle School and enjoys teaching both adult and youth classes at the Art Alliance. Much of her artwork deals with the idea of mapping and often these maps are of information not easily quantified, like memories or imagined worlds. Nicole is fascinated by the line between reality and fantasy, as well as the duality of beauty and destruction.



J. Harlan Ritchey

J. Harlan Ritchey is a self-taught artist who received his BA in Filmmaking from Penn State in 1999, with Honors in Visual Arts. Since then, he has done commissions for local and national clients, regularly shown work in central Pennsylvania galleries, and taught at the Art Alliance and the C. Barton McCann School of Art. He works in all drawing media (traditional as well as digital) but is currently focused on watercolor. His goal is to infuse each image--landscape, still life, abstraction, or even cartoon--with art-historical, cultural, and personal meanings. He lives and works in State College, PA.



Michele Rivera

Michele Rivera is founder of the Artistic Horizon art center and "Bears that Care" program in State College. She is originally from Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Kingsborough College and Penn State's School of Visual Arts. She works in ceramics, metals, and watercolors. Her passion is to pass on her addiction to create through her instruction at the university, local art centers, and various charters schools were she is or has taught art programs. She currently teaches at Artistic Horizon, Art Alliance of PA, and PA Cyber School.



Adam Swartz

Adam Swartz loves helping people use art to tell stories. He has a degree in Integrative Arts from Penn State University and a background in performance, multi-media visual art, technical theater, and education. Adam gained much insight and experience training with the puppeteers of Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street. Adam teaches after school classes for the State College Area School District, and travels to many schools throughout the commonwealth as a registered artist with the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.

Additionally, Adam owns his own puppetry company, through which he creates and performs original, interactive puppet shows, facilitates workshops, internships, and camp experiences, and designs and builds puppets for other artists.

On a summer day or in-service day during the school year you are likely to find him with a group of super heroes in his "Comics and Cartoons" class at the Art Alliance.



Ann Taylor-Schmidt

Throughout Ann Taylor-Schmidt’s life, she explored her first love, art. From Vid Petrasic’s watercolor classes to Edith Socolow’s painting classes, to Richard Mahew’s color theory painting classes and arts/science interface classes, to Fred Weber’s photography lighting classes. Ann graduated cum laude with a degree in art education and taught elementary art. She, then, worked in the graphic arts and printing industry. Next, she worked for Penn State in marketing communications and public relations, and recently retired from their Strategic Communications Office of Social Media.

Over the years, Ann created and showed art in studios in Bellefonte and in Mechanicsburg. Ann loves to paint in nature and then create a series in the studio, with each piece becoming increasingly abstract.

For many years, Ann has taught a nature-journal drawing workshop for Penn State students and interns. She also enjoys photography and printmaking and can’t wait to see what direction this new phase of her life takes her. She is enjoying teaching drawing for the Art Alliance, helping others approach their artwork in ways they never imagined.

Ann lives near Philipsburg with her husband Eric, who is a contractor and bonsai artist. They are in the midst of building a new home and watching their daughter Mandy excel in her new endeavors as a United States Marine.


Jackie Thomas

A fibers artist for more than 50 years, Jackie works most often with fabrics, yarns, fleece and beads to create wall hangings, sculptural forms, dolls, fetishes, vessels and jewelry. Her education includes teaching and administration certifications, as well as a Master’s Degree in Double Weave from Kutztown University.

There are several themes that drive her work:

  • Miniatures
  • Environment sculptures
  • Incorporation and exploration of “recycled” materials, also known as “found objects”
  • Responses to events, places, things
  • Social justice and environmental issues
  • Philosophical dilemmas
  • Serendipity and Whimsy

Lena Thynell

Lena Thynell is an art instructor at the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania. After a long career as a registered nurse, nurse midwife and department head in Sweden, watercolor has now become an important part of her life. She started to paint twenty years ago, she got her watercolor education at the Gerlesborg Art School at the Swedish West Coast. She has recently started to paint on location, in "plein - air" which gives her much joy and new inspiration. "It's a challenge to paint on location and that's what I like," Lena states. She was a Juried artists at Harford Plein Air, MD 2016 and a Juried artists at the Finger Lakes Plein Air Competition 2017. Lena has participated in Juried Art Shows as well as solo art shows in Sweden and has recently started to show and sell her work in the USA.

Lena achieved Pennsylvania Watercolor Society Signature Status, PWS, in 2015, Philadelphia Watercolor Society Signature Status 2016 and Baltimore Watercolor Society Signature Status 2017. She received a Pennsylvania Watercolor Society Honorary Award in 2014 for her watercolor painting "Water Ways". Lena is on the Bellefonte Art Museum art registry and a member of Farmland Preservation Artist's of Central Pennsylvania. Lena has attended workshops with Skip Lawrence and Alvaro Castagnet.

lenathynellwatercolor -- Instagram

Lynn Anne Verbeck

Lynn Anne Verbeck, studio potter, teacher and mother of two, received her Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics at the State University of New York in New Paltz, NY, 2011.

She was born and raised in Philipsburg, PA. Growing up in a rural area gave her a close connection with the rhythms of nature; an earthy sensibility can be seen in her work as an artist.

After completing her undergraduate work at Penn State University, she moved to New York City and opened a studio, where she lived, taught and sold her work for 17 years.

Verbeck has come full circle and now lives and works in Philipsburg. She is highly qualified in all technical aspects of pottery, making and teaching everything from hand-building to mold-making and slip-casting. Verbeck has extensive wood firing experience, as well as firing electric, gas and soda kilns.


Adrienne Waterston

Adrienne comes to us mostly recently from sunny southern California. She has been a graphic designer doing print and web design for 23 years.

Since moving to State College, she has been exploring her passion of fine art which she had kept mostly as a peripheral interest while pursuing a career in graphic design and then taking time off to take care of her small children. As a constant observer, Adrienne is forever taking stock of her surroundings, collecting elements from her experiences that frequently end up in her art: color, composition, physical items and details from her daily life, form, shape, feelings, experiences, ideas.

Adrienne has a degree in American History from Columbia University. Her art schooling is more varied, from high school art classes (where she was recruited by but did not attend The School of the Art Institute of Chicago), drawing and printmaking classes at Columbia, drawing, sculpture and design classes from he St. Louis Community Colleges, and various painting/pottery/sculpture classes along the way at community arts organizations wherever she happened to live.

As an instructor, Adrienne has 25 years of coaching experience, first as an assistant coach for a kids' USA Swimming team and then as a Masters coach in San Diego and now at Penn State. So, if she tends to coach you through how to shade your circle, or measure with your thumb, you know why. And last semester (Fall 2017) Adrienne taught a Photoshop/InDesign class at Penn State and is planning to teach two sections this Spring semester.


Sean Bodley (former instructor)

Sean is fascinated with paintings that tell stories about humanity's interaction with the environment. His current focus is taking abstract ideas about climate change and making them visible. A couple of years ago Sean initiated a successful Kick Starter campaign which allowed him to do plein air painting for a year so he could better understand the landscape for his narrative work. He studied Drawing and Painting at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts, completing his BFA in 2010.

In 2011 Sean moved to Lemont, Pennsylvania. Here he founded Mount Nittany Studio and works enthusiastically at painting and teaching art.

Sean moved to LA, Dec 2017