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Our Story

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We're The Art Local: Austin area artists and educators Renee Lai and Sarah Fagan.  Our mission is to fill an educational niche for art lovers — that space between enrolling in a college art course and attending a one-off pottery workshop. We are working artists and art professors based in Austin, TX who love to work with dedicated individuals and groups seeking instruction in drawing, painting, design, and other forms of the visual arts. Our focus is online live education. 

We decided to start this organization after talking to our university students in Austin, TX. We realized that there weren't many ways for alum to continue a serious pursuit of art after college, or find an art community. We hope that The Art Local can fill both of those needs: provide a space to learn and engage the mind, as well as meet new friends -- whether you went to college and majored in art or not. 


Who We Are

Sarah Fagan


Sarah Fagan is co-founder and teacher with The Art Local. She holds a BA in English and Studio Art from Stonehill College in North Easton, MA and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Sarah lived in Portland  Oregon, from 2009 - 2017, partnering with local businesses to offer children and adult art classes. She was also a co-owner of the cooperative gallery Blackfish during this time. Sarah has been a college lecturer at both UT Austin and St. Edward's University. She has exhibited work across the US and Canada, and has attended several residency programs including the year-long appointment as Umbrella Arts Artist in Residence in Concord, MA (2015-2016). More at

Renee Lai art

Renee Lai is co-founder and teacher with The Art Local. She holds a BA in English and Studio Art with honors from Dartmouth College, in Hanover NH, and a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. Lai also studied at the New York Studio School. She now teaches drawing and painting at UT Austin and St. Edward's. Lai’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and she has work in the permanent collection of Dartmouth College. She most recently was an artist in residence at Vermont Studio Center. As a recent Austin transplant, Lai is in love with the city and wants to help support a community in the arts. More on

Our Teachers


Lauren Winchell Bechelli is an internationally accomplished arts teacher who has nearly a decade of teaching experience with all ages and levels. Her expertise ranges from traditional figure drawing and painting (emphasizing hand skills, realistic rendering, and anatomy) to exploring the boundaries of the medium with all its philosophical and psychological possibilities. She attended Watts Atelier from 2001-2006, received her BA in Painting from the University of California at Davis in 2009, and her MFA in painting from The University of Texas at Austin in 2020. 


Bechelli has worked with international high school students at The American School in Switzerland from 2013-2019 and will be transitioning to the Les Tapies arts program in France in 2021. She worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin from 2018-2020. Her courses have included beginning drawing, figure drawing, expanded drawing, drawing from memory and travel, portraiture, and beginning, intermediate, and advanced painting. She is the recipient of a Fulbright grant to Mumbai, India for the 2021 school year where she will work with undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Baroda.

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Jesse Cline is a visual designer, digital artist, and educator interested in contemporary systems of representation and production, as well as the appropriation and diversion of those systems. How do people use language and signifiers to define themselves? How do these systems overlay and augment meaning? 

Jesse received his BS in Electronic Media, Art and Communication from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and my MFA in Design from the University of Texas at Austin.

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