709 Main Street • Windermere, FL 34786 

The Art Room is proud to feature some of our fantastic students on this page.   These artists have done some outstanding works of Art and we would like to share their successes with you.

Jane Forbes


When Jane was just 2 years old, she saw her dad doing art and wanted to do art too. She started out drawing with crayons. When she got to preschool, she was drawing the figure and making arms and legs with 2 parallel lines. Her mother said Jane created her own drawings and characters with special stories instead of playing with toys when she was little. 

Jane likes all the mediums but enjoys pencil the most. She says if she gets interrupted, she doesn’t have to clean it up and pencil gives her quick satisfaction. 

When Jane is painting and drawing, she feels happy and at peace. She likes the process and likes to see things coming together. She feels very satisfied when she finishes a piece. 

When asked what life lessons she has learned creating art, Jane says, “When you become calm it is easier to solve problems.” When she is painting and drawing, she feels calm and at peace. “I like that there are a variety of opinions and styles in art and that they should all be respected.” When Jane looks at her body of artwork, she likes that it is a record of her progress. 

Ms. Allison, her teacher, says that Jane is a fearless painter and is not discouraged by any challenge.

Todd Hockenberry


Todd has always enjoyed art, even as a child, but he never thought he would ever paint. When he married, his wife went to graduate school so he needed a hobby to keep him out to trouble. Todd went to the bookstore and bought a book on painting that included a small set of paints, brushes, and paper canvas. He read the book, did the exercises and fell in love with painting. 

Todd paints almost exclusively with oils. “There is something romantic about oils to me,” he says. “Plus, they are so thick and bold and forgiving. Especially that forgiving one. I love to rework a section and get it just right because my first attempt or next several rarely work out.” 

When Todd is painting, he feels, “Quiet. Peaceful. Focused. Not many things I do block our everything else like when I am painting. Our times on Monday night go so fast, I am always pleasantly surprised that I was so focused that I lost track of time."

Painting also teaches us life lessons. Todd says, “Look, observe, and really see what is right in front of you. I missed so much beauty and detail before I painted. Now I notice the blue shade of trees in the distance, that bee on the flower, the cloud that seems out of place. Maybe painting has helped me slow down and appreciate our world a little bit more.”


Abby Hockenberry


When Abby was a baby, her parents took her to Van Gogh and Monet exhibits before she could even walk! She started painting and drawing as soon as she could pick up a pencil or paintbrush. 

Oil paint and pencil are her favorite mediums. She loves the texture, color and depth she can get from oil paints and she loves how precise she can draw with pencil. She started her artistic journey as a realistic drawer which really helped her “see”. Painting helps her see and create color. When Abby is painting or drawing, she feels meditative and relaxed. Abby says, “I am not really thinking when I paint…… just feeling.” 

Abby says that it is good to feel emotion and express these emotions. “Keeping it all inside isn’t good for you. You can even use negative emotions for good if you channel them well! Also, perfection is not the goal……. the goal is to express yourself and make yourself happy (and others) by appreciating your creativity. 

“I have been going to The Art Room for about 6 years! Nothing has helped me grow more as an artist than classes at The Art Room. I love connecting with other artists, learning from them, and taking time to express myself. Thank you to Linda and PJ for being incredible teachers and friends!” 

My Instagram is hockenberry-studio


Jimmy Denham


Jimmy recalls starting to enjoy art as soon as he could pick up a crayon. He remembers posing his toys and drawing them. He tried to use the world for his inspiration. Jimmy’s first drawing that he still has is Jimmy on the grass with a cat.

Jimmy loves pencil drawing, oil paints and polymer clay. He also enjoys classical drawing and acrylic painting.

When he is creating art, Jimmy says, “I feel more relaxed when I do art. The world is so chaotic, art is my break.” “All art lessons teach something to apply to life. The lesson I like best, is you can make mistakes and fix them. There is always something I can do. No one is perfect and art reflects that for me.”

Jimmy loves to create art. He says, “One day I want to be able to make a profit off of my work. I think I will keep working on art for my whole life, even if it doesn’t become my career.”


Dana Gripka


Prior to moving to Orlando, Dana had never had an opportunity to take art classes. One day she saw The Art Room and was fascinated so her daughter gave her a gift certificate for an oil painting class for her birthday. She has been taking classes every sense. Dana, likes oil painting the best. She appreciates the other mediums but she keeps returning to oil painting. She says it is very forgiving and allows her to be creative.

When Dana is painting she feels at peace. She feels like “everyone from all levels of talent are supportive” at The Art Room. “It is amazing how many ages and nationalities are represented as well as men and women.”

Art has taught Dana that, “you can work very hard at something but it doesn’t always work out according to plan. Perhaps if you don’t give up you might make it right down the road eventually.”

Dana reflects on her painting years, “I have taken art classes for several years. My paintings hang in my home and homes of precious friends and family. I am most honored by the painting I created for my eldest grandson for graduation which he has hanging in his college room.”


JULY 2021
Jim Ballenger


Jim first started enjoying art in elementary school. For the last 30 years he has had opportunities to visit Art Museums in Europe and see the work of many famous artists.

Jim enjoys oil painting because it gives you time to correct your painting before it dries or after. He enjoys doing something new and feels alive and happy when he paints. He also enjoys being surrounded by friends at The Art Room.

Jim says, “Art helps me stay focused. It is relaxing and I enjoy seeing the outcome of what I do.”

Jim did mechanical drawing starting in seventh grade and all through High School. He did Engineering drawing in college and during his entire work career. He started oil painting in 2016 and says, “I wish I had started oil painting many years ago.”


JUNE 2021
Ann Marie Dipietro


Ann has always enjoyed various forms of art since she was a child. Projects that involved drawing were always her favorite in school. Ann has tried many types of arts and crafts through the years. Sewing, crochet, paper mache, stained glass, cross stich……....She is the go to person when her family has an art project.

Ann is the photographer in her family. She has taken thousands of photos over the years, many times thinking, “I’ll paint that someday.” She finally worked up the courage to paint with watercolor and she loves it! Ann says, “I feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Time flies when Ann is painting. She is still trying to find her flow in planning and getting started but when the paint touches the paper it starts to relax her. “When I see the final project, I’m amazed that I did it. I feel accomplished and pleased.”

Ann says, “I’ve learned to be patient with myself. The first step to learning something new is the first step. Someday is today. Just relax and don’t be too critical of ‘mistakes’. Let them work for your painting.  Having a creative outlet really feeds the soul. It helps me see the beauty around me.”

MAY 2021
Larissa Perez


Larissa first starting enjoying art when she was around 7 years old. Art was an elective for her school and she was fascinated with all the bright colors and the intricate shapes but felt that she was not learning anything about the details of Art. This was when she started taking private art lessons.

Larissa enjoys all the art mediums although she says watercolor and acrylics can give her a headache. Larissa says, “For me Art is precision, which is why I enjoy oils the most.” When she is painting in oil she can just block out the world. It is harder for her to do that when painting a loose painting. Larissa loves to paint the details. “Art has developed my eye for details in all aspects. I can never be less than perfect.”

APRIL 2021
Katelyn Manucy


Katelyn has enjoyed Art all of her life. She has created Art as long as she can remember. When she was 7 years old, her mom found The Art Room and she began attending painting classes. Later on, she started to attend Mr. Cooney’s classes and began creating sculptures and stop motions animation videos.

Katelyn’s favorite mediums are polymer clay and stop motion animation. She likes both of these mediums equally. When asked how she feels when she is creating Art, Katelyn said, “I feel happy when I’m creating Art, like I’m in my own little world. Creating Art has taught me that not everything is going to be perfect and that’s OK!”

Katelyn would like to thank Mr. Cooney for being an incredible teacher and for teaching her how to do so many of her favorite things. She says, “I always have a wonderful time and go home feeling happy.”


MARCH 2021
Ana Maria Veiga


Ana has enjoyed art from a very young age. Both of her parents were talented artists and they encouraged her to sketch and color when she was in grade school. Ana says, “I believe I was the only child that shaded and highlighted when I colored with my crayons.” 

Ana enjoys the unique qualities of all the art mediums. She feels most comfortable painting in oil because of the lengthy drying time that allows her to develop her painting and easily correct mistakes. She likes the great range of rich and beautiful colors and the smoothness of the paint application. She finds painting in oil both peaceful and soothing. 

Ana feels like she is connecting with the beauty in nature when she is painting. She says, “the subtilties of color, light, movement are easily overlooked and underappreciated. When I paint, I focus on light to create a mood, then include a gesture or element that is awkward or unexpected to tell a story. It could be a tilt of a head or gentle pass of a hand or a distorted way of sitting or a twitch of a nose to take my artwork from static to one that visually tells a story.” 

Painting has taught Ana that to categorize all beings and natural creations into a group is a great disservice to Mother Nature. “Everything is unique,” she says. “You will never see the same sunset, smell the same flower after it wilts, hear the same rustle of wind, or touch another individual or being as the ones that are in your life. The emotions might be the same but the object or subject cannot be replicated. So, I eliminate the noise and appreciate what I love and try to preserve the memory in my art.”


David Ziglar


David’s earliest memory of enjoying art was when he came to Mrs. Allison’s Preschool class at The Art Room. He looked forward to coming to paint every month. His favorite mediums are acrylic and clay. He says, “I like to paint cool pictures and make cool sculptures out of clay. You can get messy and make really cool stuff.” David says he feels happy when he does art because he is having fun. “When I am painting, I am thinking about what I will paint next and how it will look when I get done.” He says that art teaches you not to get frustrated about your art. “If you get frustrated, then you think you can’t and then you can’t.”


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"I've been taking classes at The Art Room for almost a year now and I could never say enough great things about this place! The classes are fun for all skill levels and the instructors make sure you leave with a piece of art you love. I am constantly learning new techniques with every class I take. My kids (ages 6 & 9) love the classes too! The instructors are so patient with the kids and really help them learn and understand why they are doing what they are doing. The atmosphere is laid back and relaxing. Everyone is very encouraging of each other. We are all there to learn something new and create something beautiful. Each instructor is different and has a different style, but they are all extremely talented! They will never make you feel intimidated and will guide you step by step to an amazing piece of art."

Brooke P.

"I adore working with the ladies at the Art Room. Linda, PJ, Connie, and Alison are just amazing teachers. I have taken their oil, drawing, portfolio, acrylic and painting like the masters classes and have learned so much in each and every one! They have done the amazing and pulled an artist out of me... cannot say enough about how wonderful, talented, encouraging and patient they are." 

Nancy McEvoy

"Absolutely love this place! Everyone is so nice and encouraging. The Art Room is the perfect place to unwind and learn something new!" 

Brooke Waites Phipps
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