Creatives in Denton County come together through Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild

Creatives in Denton County come together through Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild

Creatives in Denton County come together through Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild
November 27
12:56 2018

Denton is known for its arts scene, but it is not something found on the Square or the walls of the art building at UNT. It can also be found 13 miles down the road from Denton.

The Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild is a group of different artists living in Flower Mound, Highland Village, Lewisville and the surrounding areas.

The guild was created in 2002, with 23 artists participating this year. Every year the guild holds a tour where members of the group open up their studios to the public so the community can see their art and learn more about what they do. Each member of the tour has their own story of why they are passionate about their art.

A creative outlet

Some of Melodee Martin-Ramirez’s work is displayed in her home studio. Paige Bruneman

For Melodee Martin-Ramirez, happy memories of art go all the way back to her childhood. She remembers opening up a fresh box of 64-count Crayola crayons from her grandmother and coloring with her mother.

She also remembers learning the basics of her creative passion from her fifth grade art teacher.

“She taught me all the basics of making a two-dimensional surface look three-dimensional with pastels and all different ways,” Martin-Ramirez said. “She was really the best art teacher I ever had.”

Each memory has created the happy place of art that Martin-Ramirez has spent most of her life in. Her love for art was what pushed her to get her bachelor’s degree at UNT, majoring in education with a double minor in art and psychology.

“I loved being in the art program — [it] was wonderful,” Martin-Ramirez said. “You have to take such a variety of classes when you’re studying it, so I took design and painting and all these different things.”

She ended up earning three master’s degrees in art after graduating in 1976. Now she works as a professor at North Lake College.

“I always laugh and say, ‘People are paying me to do what I would be doing anyway,'” Martin-Ramirez said. “I read art history [and] I paint. It’s a pretty cool deal if you can get it.”

Her passion to share art with others inspired her to help found the Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild Studio Tour in 2002. She saw her friend and fellow artist Marty Ray do a tour in White Rock, so Martin-Ramirez and some of the other founding members created the guild.

“I enjoyed the fact that all these artists were opening up their homes and sharing,” Martin-Ramirez said. “The reason we started it was just to make people aware of art, and in that way, encourage them to reach out and try making art.”

It has been 17 years since Martin-Ramirez helped found the studio tour, and she is proud of the progress it has made. She has even contributed her paintings to this year’s studio tour.

“I hope it continues to stay active, I really do,” Martin-Ramirez said. “I think there’s a lot of good in it. When I was at the opening and chatting to all those people I’ve [now] known for so long, I thought, ‘This is really great.’”

Feeling the freedom of art

Melodee Martin-Ramirez, 65, works on a painting in her home studio. Martin-Ramirez is one of the co-founders of the Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild. Paige Bruneman

Standing in her grandmother’s backyard, Kathleen House can remember the words her grandparents said to her as they handed her a paintbrush: “You can paint anything you want.”

Holding the leftover blue and green paint, that is exactly what House did.

“I just started painting things in the backyard all blue and green — the wagon, the terracotta pots, rocks — anything I could find I would paint, and they just let me,” House said. “I think it gave me the freedom.”

The freedom House found at her grandparents’ home when she was a little girl led her to become an abstract painter. House did not take her first art class until she was a senior in high school.

“I think not having art education might have encouraged me to start,” House said. “Art was my passion, so I wanted to move on and do the same for other people and I do love teaching.”

After graduating from Kansas State University in 1973, she moved to Texas and later earned her master’s degree in art education at Texas Woman’s University. House also took a couple classes at UNT during that time.

“I wanted to know how to do watercolor on a college level because I had a really great teacher in my undergrad,” House said. “I loved the freedom of watercolor, and so my first class was with her.”

In 2002, House was part of the founding group that created the Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild. As an artist and educator, House agreed it was important to help bring the idea from the East Dallas area to her community.

“We just wanted to reach out to the neighbors and the community and educate them about what was going on in the art studios,” House said. “Our mission was just to educate and introduce them to what’s so close by.”

A lifelong artistic journey

Lorraine Hayes, 82, sits in her home studio. Hayes is the treasurer for the Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild and has been making art for 50 years. Paige Bruneman

It was 1965 and 10 years had passed since Lorraine Hayes took her first oil painting class in high school. It was much longer since her earliest memory as a child, drawing the horses in the pasture by her house.

“I was delighted,” Hayes said. “Painting with oils again [was] so much fun.”

Her passion for art had always been a part of her but was put on hold after high school until that moment.

At 29 years old, Hayes was reminded of her desire to create art and eventually applied to UNT, which was called North Texas State College at the time, to get an MFA in printmaking.

“I liked the interaction with other artists,” Hayes said. “We talked, we had discussions, we challenged each other, we asked each other questions.”

When Hayes moved to Highland Village with her husband to be closer to her grandchildren, her desire to be in community with other artists led her to join the Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild in 2003.

“[It’s] good to be a part of [a group of artists] because there’s a great variety of skills, techniques and mediums,” Hayes said. “Even when I lived in Sherman they didn’t have woodturners or fabric artists, so that’s why I like the guild.”

Now at 82 years old, she has learned the skills to become the artist she has wanted to be since a little girl.

“I’m glad I did it — it’s something that was part of me as a young child,” Hayes said. “It’s something I didn’t have a whole lot of encouragement as a young child, but it’s something that stayed with me.”

Featured Image: Kathleen House, 68, works on a piece in her home studio. House is one of the co-founders of the Cross Timbers Artist’s Guild and has been making art all her life. Paige Bruneman

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Rachel Linch

Rachel Linch

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1 Comment

  1. Kat
    Kat November 27, 17:14

    Thank you Rachel and Paige. Enjoyed meeting you and love this article.

    Reply to this comment

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