We’re back back back back back again (I’ve been binge watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race) with another Top 10 Artists to Watch!

In celebration of the summer sun, we’re featuring visual artists that push the boundaries with their bright and bold color palettes. All of this month’s artists are local to Austin, so don’t hesitate to get in touch and see the work in person.

Scroll through to learn more about the process and background of our Top 10 Artists to Watch!  

1Whitney Batres

Heirloom II
Heirloom III

Local artist Whitney Batres moved to Austin in 2011 to study Studio Art at the University of Texas. Her colorful creations are an ode to her family and the cultural traditions of domestic craft.

Her artwork takes many forms, from paper sculptures to one-of-a-kind patterns. No matter the medium, she uses bright colors as a theme throughout every piece she makes.

“I aim to bridge the gap between craft and fine art in my work. I often use patterns and unusual materials to create the illusion of textiles, inviting the viewer to take a closer look and question what they’re seeing.”

@whitbat | Website

2Emma Van Den Akker

Selfie Me
The Girl with the Rainbow Earring

Emma Van Den Akker is an artist new to Austin by way of Philadelphia. She uses oil and acrylic paints to achieve her goal of “pushing the relationship between realism portraits and color.”

Her art straddles the line between realistic and fantasy. Her use of recognizable imagery, witnessed above in reference to Girl with a Pearl Earring, is altered with concept and color, to test viewers’ imaginations.

We’re eager to see more work from Emma as she makes her mark on the local art community.

@emmavdart | Website

3Brutha Liberty

Brutha Liberty is an Austin based painter and clothing designer. We featured his work in Issue 14: Vivid due to his use of bright colors and bold illustrations.

“As an artist I do not want to try and fit in based on rules of society. My goal is to create and be free. I want to encourage anyone to be themselves without oppressive restrictions, through positive enjoyment, authenticity and love.”

You can look forward to more art from Brutha Liberty when he launches his online shop this year.


4Meena Matai


Austin artist Meena Matai creates vibrant and playful art with a purpose: to build a supportive community. Her use of vivid greens, blues and purples are meant to inspire positivity and collaboration.

Meena mainly focuses on two main styles of work: abstract and sculptural. Nature is the inspiration behind her abstract creations made from vibrant alcohol inks. Her sculptural pieces also start with alcohol ink on yupo paper, but they are carved, cut and burned into organic shapes that Meena uses to make 3D patterns. Each piece is made by hand to play with the light and shadows.

“My creative journey is as much spontaneous and playful, as it is meditative and introspective. We, as humans, are more alike than we are different. Just as colors come together to form beautiful art so do people to form a supportive community. It takes a village to raise a child or to bring about monumental change. My vivid colors play a small part in building our community.”


5Rick Steinburg

Original Dog in the Garden
Angelique of Benin

Rick Steinburg is a local artist and musician we featured in last month’s Artists to Hear. Rick’s career as a visual artist seems to be destined. His father was an abstract expressionist painter and professor at Illinois State University, a school that became his alma mater.

Rick’s artwork is a combination of painting and found objects. By introducing 3D elements into his work, he creates compositions that push the boundaries of traditional painting.

“Seeing the visual possibilities in objects and art fragments allows the process to determine a significant part of the outcome. The spontaneous nature of this process allows a narrative to develop organically.”

@ricksteinburgartworks | Website


Risk it All

FISH, aka local artist Wade Thompson, views the world as a blank canvas. His murals are pure imagination and a way for him to alter his surroundings to ultimately improve himself.

His artwork comes highly recommended from our friends at SprATX, who first put FISH on our radar. They praise him for his role in pushing the creative community forward which he accomplishes by playing an integral role in the Blue Dozen Collective and collaborating on events that showcase the underground art scene in Austin.

When he’s not painting on walls, FISH is also involved in Beat Sessions, a monthly graffiti battle hosted at Spokesman.

@manwithpencil | Website

7Kalee Espitia

Burst of Light
Bathing Light

Kalee Espitia, a self taught Mexican-American artist, creates work that represents her culture and the desert of her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. While studying Advertising at the Austin Art Institute, Kalee discovered her love for painting and began experimenting with a variety of mediums.

“I love to use vivid colors that highlight the beauty of life and decay. The contrast between the skulls and flowers fascinate me and allow me to explore how I can bring some light to usually dreary subject matter. As I continue with this work, I hope to explore more wild colors and other creatures that make up this wonderful world.“

@kalee.m.espitia.art | Website

8Leah Dorrian

Beewildered Buzzkill

Leah Dorrian is a painter new to Austin. Her art quickly caught our eye because of her vibrant color palettes and surreal subject matter.

Her process is a much a part of her concept as the final product. Each painting is made from layers upon layers of paint, allowing the original thought to transform with each stroke.

“The surrealist paintings I create are inspired by the imagination, the subconscious mind, the vastness of consciousness, and the possibilities of creation. I begin each painting session with a meditation to focus my attention and clear my mind so that ideas, dreams, and visions for the painting can come through. I use oil paint, 10-20 layers, to build rich colors and allow for the subjects to morph and change anywhere in between the start and finish.”


9Gabriel Portillo

Road to Space

Gabriel Portillo aka paste is a native Texan that has been making art since he was a child.

The scale of his work ranges from canvas to walls. Gabriel uses acrylic and aerosol paints to create colorful work combining geometric shapes and most recently, portraits. He also uses bright colors to convey emotion in his work. “Road to Space” pictured above combines colors, shapes and textures to take the audience on a surreal journey.


10Rick Byrnes

Fossil Crocodiles at BB

The second Rick on our list, local artist Rick Byrnes, fuses elements of collage and manipulates digital images to create work that challenges our perceived reality. He picked up a camera over 50 years ago and has not stopped creating art since.

“I like to use collage to create a juxtaposition of incongruous objects in a search for hidden meanings of things and of reality. But in contradiction, distortion can evoke a certain strangeness. My work contains deliberate manipulations, and leans toward the surreal. I try to create clear meaning from what could be considered meaningless.”


Want to be featured?

We accept any and all forms of art. Learn more about how to contribute.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here