Our Team Bios
Born in 1980, Michael Klein was nineteen when he began his serious training in classical ateliers and workshops. His first teacher was Richard Whitney. One of New Hampshire's most prominent portrait painters, and a pupil to the teaching of R.H. Ives Gammell of the Boston School Tradition. After two years with workshop classes under Whitney's guidance, Klein continued studying in Minneapolis at the former atelier Lack which was founded by Richard Lack, a classical painter whose efforts were largely responsible for the revival of traditional painting in the United States. Seeking to broaden his education, Klein then left his home in the Midwest to move east, where he began studies at the Art Students League of New York, most notably under the tutelage of portraitist Nelson Shanks. In 2002, Klein entered what would become his final school, the Water Street Atelier (now Grand Central Atelier) where he apprenticed under founder, Jacob Collins until 2005.
Klein's passion is to depict an accurate representation of our human experience interacting with the created order around us. By poetically blending pigments from the earth, adding oil, and his inborn artistic capability he recreates the world around us and injects his personal spirit into each piece throughout the process. Due to many years training in the classical tradition under well known artists, Klein has emphasized that working from life is an important part of the creative process.
Joshua LaRock is quickly becoming a sought after and much-admired Classical Realist. After receiving a baccalaureate degree in Music Business at The University of Colorado, Denver in 2005, LaRock found himself compelled to explore a completely different vocation as an artist in the realm of classical painting. It was a resolute and challenging decision that led him to the Water Street Atelier, where he received tutelage from Jacob Collins. Being in New York, studying with Collins, and acquiring masterful draughtsmanship at an astonishing rate are proving to be fruitful for LaRock, and his work feels more of a mid-career artist than an emerging painter.
LaRock's works are almost an ode to the past while being filtered through his life, his point of reference. This makes his emotive portraits memorable and potent and gives his narrative pieces an eerily contemporary attitude. Even when referencing Bouguereau or using a pastoral theme, LaRock imbues a shade of the contemporaneous, drawing the viewer deeper into his world. His still life paintings almost pop off the canvas and give new reverie to the ordinary. Each work is tightly rendered and thoughtfully composed; this is in stark contrast to LaRock's en plein air landscapes, which are soft touches of color carefully recording a specific moment or truth in nature.
In 2012 LaRock’s portrait submission of his wife, Laura, was hailed as ‘deserving special attention’ during the historic America China Oil Painting Artists League (ACOPAL) exhibit at the Beijing World Art Museum. Reproductions of “Laura” quickly became the best selling souvenir throughout the extent of the Chinese tour. Since his Chinese debut LaRock has been commissioned to paint portraits of many distinguished Chinese personalities including Mrs. Wang Limei, Director of the Beijing World Art Museum, Mr. Brian Lu, Vice President and General Manager of Apple Inc. in greater China, Actress Zhou Zhi and the popular Chinese singer, Yi Liyuan. This past June, another striking painting of the artist’s wife, “Laura in Black” was exhibited as part of the 2016 BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
LaRock is represented by Collins Galleries, Cape Cod; Portraits, Inc.; Maxwell Alexander Gallery, LA; Stephen Ling, Beijing. He has participated in exhibitions throughout the US, Europe and China, has received a number of awards from the Art Renewal Center, and is a much sought out workshop instructor. -Alison Collins
Louis was born on July 22nd 1981, in Clarksdale MS.
Deep in the heart of the “Delta” of Mississippi, Louis grew up on a cotton farm. As high energy child his parents wanted to channel his energy into a constructive atmosphere. Upon noticing a glimpse of artistic talent in him at an early age, Louis was encouraged by his parents to discover what would become his life passion. Having parents that were appreciative of the arts, and a firm belief in the power of home education, Louis was in a hospitable space for his talent to grow.
Mainly self taught Louis did, however, have a role model. For Louis’ 7th birthday he was given the opportunity to meet Marshall Bouldin ( a renowned portrait artist in the south). At this time is when Louis decided art would be a life pursuit. Periodically in his adolescence Louis would visit the master to listen to his wisdom observe his excitement for painting.
Louis started his portrait career at the age of 13. By the time he was 20 he began painting as his full time profession. Today Louis does commission work across the country.
Louis furthered his learning with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Mississippi and then Moved to New York to study at the Grand Central Atelier.
After his stint in New York, Louis partnered with two other painters Joshua LaRock and Michael Klein to start their own studio company. They all three moved their families to Raleigh, North Carolina and opened East Oaks Studio in 2017. He and the boys have many dreams to fill and they working diligently to see them through to fruition.
Joe Hawkins is a British filmmaker and camera operator who has recently emigrated to the United States, where he currently lives with his wife on the outskirts of the city of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Joe originally trained as a camera assistant with the BBC on several television productions, after which he progressed on to become a camera operator and editor for a high-end wedding film company, Clark & Palmer Wedding Films. Joe also set up his own freelance film business, working with British companies such as the digital design company Bulb Studios, and with clients including Jaguar Land Rover and Waitrose. Before leaving Britain to travel across the pond Joe filmed, edited and directed a documentary about the Battle of Britain for the RAF Fighters Association, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This film has been released in six museums across Britain and has been accepted by the British Film Institute.
Throughout his filming career Joe has always captured the passion and true character of every one of his clients, from international car manufacturers and giant food production corporations, to local artists and starry-eyed newlyweds wishing to treasure their special day on film. No matter what the occasion, purpose or theme, Joe will work with you to produce a film that depicts the very essence of whoever you are and whatever it is that you want to say.
After thirty six years in the non-profit world with a focus on serving people I discovered that through art I am able to continue my life passions of making life better for others. Through painting I am able to be about the call of drawing others to original beauty, truth and goodness. This congruence of gifting and calling opened new doors to find beauty in every place and to point others in that direction. In order to see beauty one must become interior to the work and enter into its radiant space and spell. To quote a phrase of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Earths crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God: and only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” Seeing has consumed me as I seek to see and express through my painting the beauty of the ordinary, the true and the suffering of the cosmos and all its expressions. In Ms. Barret's words I have removed my shoes.
My personal motivations for creating visual art is summed up in this quote by Dorothy Sayer…..
“Professional standards, the standards of ambition and selfishness, are always sliding downward toward expense, ostentation, and mediocrity. They tend always to narrow the ground of judgment. But amateur standards, the standards of love, are always straining upward toward the humble and the best. They enlarge the ground of judgment. The context of love is the world.”