Artistic Rain Barrel Bios

Dranesville Elementary SchoolSpringtime by Dranesville Elementary Students and Anne Nagy

Images that make you think of spring were used to make this rain barrel design. The Art Club from Dranesville ES, grades 3-6 worked on this together under the guidance of Anne Nagy, one of their Art Teachers.

Friendship Circle, Girl Scout Troop 1629 Friendship Circle by Girl Scout Troop 1629

The 4th grade girls in Troop 1629 are enthusiastic artists who did their very best to convey the beauty of nature in the sun, rainbows, and diversity of the girls. They designed this barrel to symbolize many things that are important to them. The Friendship Circle is a Girl Scout tradition and represents the coming together of different kinds of people in a kind and respectful way. The girls are catching raindrops as they spill into the Friendship Circle while one girl has her hand raised to recite the Girl Scout Promise. The girls in Troop 1629 recognize the importance of caring for the environment through water conservation. Every time they recite the Girl Scout Law they pledge to “use resources wisely” and “make the world a better place.” These girls worked together to design and paint this rain barrel in an effort to spread the message of acceptance, togetherness and conservation.

Junior Girl Scout Troop 1629, Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capitol Esther Anderson, Ella Gilles, Valerie Giordano, Emely Paz, Jessica Pham, Lauren Mitros, Kelly Rutherford, Megan Sullivan, Audrey Swart, Cecilia Szkutak, Caeli Vegso

Elizabeth Rossini, Elaine Sullivan, co-leaders; Britt Anderson, Service Project Coordinator.

Girl Scout Troop 1867                    Girl Scout Troop 1867

This rain barrel is a collaborative effort of the six girls of Girl Scout Troop 1867, who are 5th grade students at Dranesville Elementary in Herndon. The design depicts wildlife and ecosystems reliant upon clean water, and was created by combining artwork contributed by each girl. The swan, otter, frog, dolphin, puffer fish, and sea star represent the creatures of the Chesapeake Bay, and the plants, birds and insects that surround them symbolize the living things of the land that are no less dependent upon water. The artwork on this rain barrel expresses the girls’ heartfelt concern for our natural environment, and represents their vision of a future that includes a healthy Chesapeake Bay in a verdant watershed.

Key Elementary School, The Life of a RaindropLa vida de una gota de lluvia / The life of a raindrop by Key Elementary School

This project, La vida de una gota de lluvia, is based on a recently completed science writing project in which 2nd grade students at Key Elementary School retold the life of a raindrop as it travels through the water cycle, including sights and places visited. Using their stories as guides, students then sketched in both science and art classes to illustrate their writing. The final rain barrel painting is based on a compilation of their designs.

As physicist Werner Heisenberg said, “Natural science does not simply describe and explain nature, it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves.” This rings true for our students as artists and as scientists. Our project seeks to inspire students to ask questions – both scientific and aesthetic – and to creatively explore the world around them. It is our hope that La vida de una gota de lluvia will help the community understand the complementary relationship between art and science while leaving a beautiful legacy for future generations to enjoy. We hope that you enjoy our work!

Kerensa McConnell, Caitlin Fine and all 2nd grade students, Key Elementary School, Arlington, VA

Long Branch Elementary SchoolLong Branch Elementary

In Ms. Zaberer’s art class, the Long Branch Elementary 3rd grade students looked at the exotic landscapes of Henri Rousseau. The students learned about the artist, and how his landscapes were inspired by tropical botanicals and wild animals. This project also tied in with the 3rd grade science curriculum when they study the water cycle, water conservation and the importance of water to life on earth. They also study living systems and water and dry land environments. We focused on the rainforest in this painting. Through this cross curricular project the students were able to make connections through science and art.

Mount Vernon Community School, Give BackGive Back by Maddie Kysilko, Michaela Mannel, and Sophie Moniz, Mount Vernon Community School

Being green to the earth
is all about giving back
The earth could be better
if we all tried harder
This rainbarrel will help the earth
be greener
You have to start
We are all connected
by nature
Water is where it all

Mount Vernon Community School, Winter Intersession, Ms. Hudec

Jennifer BabcockJennifer Babcock

I got excited about this project because I love the idea of using rain barrels. Since the rain gives us water we can store and use in our yards, it makes such sense to take advantage of that. I decided to paint a young girl who is enjoying spring in Virginia. Hopefully it will help its new owner remember that spring is always around the corner!

Jennifer Babcock is a native of Virginia. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Brigham Young University, where she studied painting and drawing. The figure is prominent in her work and she has a particular fascination for doing paintings of chairs. She also paints portraits and her specially commissioned works grace the walls of many homes and businesses throughout the greater Metropolitan DC area. Other artistic pursuits include furniture restoration, the making of hand bound books, photography, and murals. She resides in Fairfax County. Please visit her website at

Allison CusatoAllison Cusato

Allison Cusato grew up in the DC area. She graduated from JMU with a BS in Art. She held a career in Graphic Design from 1998-2003. She returned to JMU to earn a certificate in Art Education. After completing her certification in 2005 she moved to the Front Royal, VA area to teach Art to elementary age students at two local schools. She has since exhibited at the Shenandoah Arts Council (SAC) three times and has had three banners in Artscape on Old Town, which were displayed on the Old Town Winchester walking mall. She recently exhibited two pieces in the Blue Ridge Arts Council (BRAC) show “By the Sea”. She currently has two pieces exhibiting in the Blue Ridge Region Art Educators Show.

Allison’s first love in the arts is painting, however she also enjoys metalsmithing, printmaking and photography.

Sheila DunheimerSheila Dunheimer

Sheila Dunheimer has lived in Vienna since 1995. She decided to participate in the Fairfax Artistic Rain Barrel Program to pursue ways that could make storm water management more attractive to homeowners. Her flower and herb theme was chosen to highlight a Take Action Project that her youngest daughter's (Lilly) Girl Scout Troop # 6093 has undertaken for their Silver Award. These GS Cadettes have developed a flyer that outlines the types of herbs and flowers that will attract stink bug larvae predators and have been distributing the flyers throughout their respective neighborhoods in Vienna and Oakton this spring. The GS Cadettes want to motivate homeowners to include these plants in their gardens as a natural way for our community to eliminate this invasive species. Their efforts have received attention from the Girl Scouts Council of the Nation's Capital in their recent online newsletter CapiTalk, which has helped to spread the word to this region's GS community. Lilly has helped Sheila decorate their rain barrel. They are hoping that this rain barrel's theme will continue to educate and motivate many more Fairfax County residents - not only to employ watershed-friendly gardening - but how we can work together to naturally eliminate stink bugs. The ladybug featured on the faucet handle is not only for good luck, it is also one of the stink bug larvae predators that we're trying to attract! Flyers will be supplied with the rain barrel for interested viewers to take.

Susi DuPuis, Artsy Fartsy BarrelArtsy Fartsy Barrel by Susi Dupuis

Artsy Fartsy Jewelry is recycled plastic jewelry and OTHER functional artwork made from discarded plastic containers.

My designs are made using plastic found in everyday household products such as detergent containers, shampoo and lotion bottles or even coffee and some spray bottle can lids. Any plastic soft enough to cut with scissors is used in my work. I hand cut the plastic into large shapes such as those used on this RAIN BARREL PROJECT or use a series of die cutters when making my jewelry. My work incorporates infinite combinations of colors, product labels, and connective engineering using a variety of wire, rivets, and other findings.

Artsy Fartsy is not recycled art just for the sake of art. The key concept of Artsy Fartsy is a focus on bringing NEW LIFE and FUNCTION to recycled products.

I hope you enjoy this rain barrel with planted “pockets” as it brings decorative form, funky fun, and function to your outdoor living space!

Steve FlynnSteve Flynn

Water collected in this barrel is water that won't rush off the roof into the local streams. In a small way I have learned to save on the water bill while using mother nature's sweet precipitation collected to water the plants. Let's see, use a better product that has not been chemically treated and naturally soft, rain water, at a lesser price - zero, does make rain barrels sound like a good idea, yep?

At the same time I became more aware of anything spilled or placed on the street or yard ( waste oil, chemicals, lawn fertilizer, trash, yard waste, etc) will eventually wash down the storm drain to the sewer and into our streams but at a much lesser rate because of this tastefully decorated and unquestionably stunning rain collection barrel.

Inspiration for the design came from fond memories of vacationing on the Caribbean Island of Tortola, British Virgin Islands where spectacular vistas overlooking beautiful shorelines and water sights abound.

Gretchen HarrisThe Foliate Face by Gretchen Harris

The foliate face is recognized all over the globe appearing in art, architecture, writing, and mythology. My hope is that by adapting and reusing this imagery (the green man) in my two dimensional work andthis rain barrel, viewers will humanize our natural environment and be more likely to acknowledge and respect it.

Isabel HollinsRainy Day by Isabel Hollins

This piece is meant to remind those who have grown up, of the days where they would just stand out in the rain, and for those who have not grown up, who might have done so yesterday. The yellow ducklings scattered around the bottom of the barrel near the grass symbolize the phrase, “It’s perfect weather for ducks.” Both the duckling standing underneath the umbrella and the girl are facing away from our view, this symbolizes the fact that we don’t really know everything, and that one can be happy and enjoy another’s company without words. The clouds have patches of different shades of grey, showing that it is a changing storm, which symbolizes that each moment should be treasured, because you’ll never know how long it is going to last, and it might never be just like this again.

Crista KostenkoArt as Life Cycle by Crista Kostenko, ATR

As an art therapist, I constantly work with people who are using artwork to understand more about themselves, others, and their environments. As an artist, I find myself doing the same. This artistic expression is part of living as well as connecting with others and it supports the ability to contribute to our community. Everyone has the opportunity and responsibility to better their communities. I would like to dedicate this rain barrel to those who dare to express themselves.

Crista, a Registered Art Therapist, currently facilitates art therapy and expression groups with creative seniors and expressive teens and children in the DC metropolitan community.

Email: ; Web:

Robin KovzeloveWater Works by Robin Kovzelove

Robin E. S. Kovzelove is a color field painter currently residing in Northern Virginia. She is deeply inspired by the vast expanse of a blank canvas, the light spectrum and esoteric media.

Artist Interpretation: The rain barrel is detailed with a synergy of nature, lotus and energy motifs and is honoring a paradigm of fulfillment.

Donna LaFontainDrip by Drop by Donna LaFontain

Rain, rain, don’t go away.
Rain, rain, fall down today.

Fill my barrel, drip by drop. Fill my barrel, to the top.

When the day is hot, and the sky is blue,
I’ll water my flowers, and say Thank YOU!

I saw this Rain Barrel Project and thought it would be fun. Heck, the barrel & paint was free….I just needed to invest time and effort. Cool Breeze. Well, finding time to paint my barrel within the deadline proved to be more complicated than I anticipated…..How was I to find the time to get MY garden ready for spring?

The idea of catching rainwater is a no-brainer…’s free, no commuting is involved, lower water bills AND rainwater is BETTER for plants! It’s purer and more easily absorbed by plants because it is naturally soft, or free of minerals in tap water.

Happy Gardening.

Carolina MayorgaThirst by Carolina Mayorga

Concept: The silhouette characters drinking water from the actual spigot of the rain barrel represent the idea of humankind rather than a specific group of people. Their gestures and poses remind us of the joy of an everyday but essential element for all living creatures. The choice of colors emphasizes the playful/joyful experience while separating the object from its immediate surroundings.

Biography: Has had one-person exhibitions in Colombia, Mexico, at the University of Kansas and in the Washington D.C. area. Has also participated in group exhibitions in Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Sweden and numerous cities of The United States. Her work is represented in collections including the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C., Light Street Gallery, Baltimore, MD, Andres Institute of Art, NH, Museum of New Art, Pontiac, MI, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, and Kronan Sculpture Park, Lulea, Sweden.

Mayorga’s work has been reviewed in various publications in Colombia, Sweden, Spain and the United States including articles in the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Baltimore City Paper, Winston-Salem Journal, Telegraph and Union Leader from New Hampshire and NSD and Kuriren from Lulea, Sweden among others.

Her work will be seen at the Greater Reston Arts Center this May. For more information visit:

Erin MillerHome Sweet Gnome by Erin Miller

The gnomes are moving out of the forest and into Fairfax County! They were so excited about this rain barrel program, they decided to make Fairfax County their new home. You see, the gnomes are very concerned about our environment. They are always looking for sustainable ways to do their part. Did you know that rain barrels will catch the rain that usually just gets reabsorbed into the ground, and hold it until you need it for gardening! How great is that?! Well, the gnomes thought so too.

Garden gnomes are surprisingly good at finding ways to help out the Earth. For instance, they only walk or ride bikes. You can see their bike shop on the barrel. As you can imagine, this is a very profitable business for an entrepreneurial gnome! The gnomes are very good about composting their food, but they found a need for recycling and have recently added a *recycling plant to their burgeoning town. So, be on the lookout for sustainable ways to keep Fairfax County beautiful. You might even catch a glimpse of the elusive FFX County gnomes now residing throughout!

*recycling plant on back.

Arlington ArtWorks, Community ResidencesArlington ArtWorks

Community Residences, Inc is a non-profit that provides residential and support services for adults with a wide range of disabilities in Arlington, VA. Our Arlington ArtWorks program is a therapeutic art program where participants can learn skills and promote recovery and independence through the creative arts. ArtWorks’ mission is to empower and to facilitate recovery and skill building for individuals in an inclusive and supportive studio environment. Our rain barrel design is a reflection and celebration of community connection and diversity. Each house represents the unique lives of residents that come together to form the vibrant energy of the Arlington community.

To learn more about our therapeutic art program please visit us at or follow Arlington ArtWorks on Facebook.

Anne NagyButterflies and Dragonflies by Anne Nagy

Anne Nagy was inspired by water and used tints and shades of blue with an infusion of purple to create this rain barrel. She wanted a dream-like quality to be evident in her painting. Anne Nagy currently teaches art at Dranesville ES and is the Director of Lark, a summer camp run out of Reston Community Center.

Nikki OteyzaAll Walks of Life by Nikki Oteyza

This rain barrel depicts the great diversity of life on this planet that thrives on water in all its various forms. It is fundamental to the survival of all living creatures, from microscopic organisms to the megafauna. Abundant as it appears to be in our rivers, seas, and oceans, water still remains to be a resource worth capturing and preserving...every drop of it.

The artist, Nikki Oteyza, from Arlington, Virginia, derives her creative inspiration from the natural world. Whether it be acrylic painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry-making, or painting a rain barrel, she soaks up energy from the earth and transforms it into art. Through her creative work and professional work with a local environmental nonprofit called Earth Sangha, she hopes to raise awareness about conservation issues and motivate people to become involved in the vital process of protecting this earth.

J.T. SmithJ. T. Smith

Born: New York

Background: Fine arts major .J.T Smith has held various one-man shows throughout her career to include designing emblems for the cub scouts and creating wreaths for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. J.T. Smith operated a 10 year art program at a local area retirement community.

This vessel has been transformed into a message carrier.It symbolizes the need for immediate water conservation. The owl says “whooo” is going to do it? The ladybug is for luck and telling us even the smallest things need us to be conscious of how we use natural resources.The clock tells us when. The rain barrel is the answer. The fish can’t live without being mindful of conservation. The red bird is for Virginia to receive the rain barrel message.

Mary WehleBeautiful Indicators by Mary Wehle

The rain barrel protects the streams by reducing the runoff that occurs during heavy rains. Our responsibility to protect the environment is vital to the complex ecosystems that exist on our planet. As an elementary art teacher, I look for opportunities to connect the art program with science, math, social studies and language arts. Teaching art at Terraset Elementary School has been exciting and inspiring. During the eight years I have been working with Terraset students, I have been impressed by the PTA funded programs that directly benefit the children. The Eco-club is one of the after school activities that adopted the Trout in the Classroomproject. The club members work together to create an aquarium habitat for the trout eggs which later develop into fry. The students are devoted to the care of these fish. Through careful observations, they document the growth and development. They release the brook trout into a stream in Southwestern Virginia. Brook trout are considered an indicator species because their survival depends on pollution free streams. The brook trout is the Virginia State Fish.

Mary Wehle, Art Specialist, Terraset Elementary, Reston Virginia

Jennifer WhitemanJennifer Whiteman

Everyone is an Artist.

This I know to be true. Because if I can do it, so can everyone else. I never would have said I was an artist growing up and only kind of fell in to it in college as a web programmer dabbling with other software. Then they said I needed to learn how to draw. Who knew that drawing realistically is a set of skills that even a child can learn?! But it is. And I did.

Realizing I liked helping other people reach the same conclusions I did about the myth about “talent being the only way to be an artist”, I followed a path into teaching. Now I show children the power & simplicity of being brave enough to be creative and artistic. In the meantime, their demands have encouraged me to continue to do the same. I certainly do not know how to draw everything but when a child asks, you try and you learn.

When the opportunity to participate in this program presented itself, I surprised myself by submitting a design for the first time to anything, ever. I have always loved the New York Cow Parade and wanted to be a part of a similar program. I was more than slightly nervous when I was actually selected because I certainly wouldn’t call myself a painter as the majority of my experience with painting is comprised of the Fairfax County Public Schools Elementary Art curriculum. However, I took the opportunity to explore some new materials and once again, I have surprised myself. I still wouldn’t call myself a painter. But I am an artist.

Judy ZatsickJudy Zatsick

Judy Zatsick is an oil painter and a juried studio artist at the Workhouse Art Center in Lorton, Virginia. She is located in studio 410. Her luminous oils have appeared in juried exhibits both internationally and locally. Her work is held in both public and private collections in Europe and in the United States. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission purchased several of Judy’s pieces for their collection. She is a member of the Center for Creative Arts in Fredericksburg and continues to study art at the Art League School, the Corcoran School of Art and Design, and with private instructors. Deeply committed to environmental issues, she pursues her passion for nature with work in horticulture at Green Spring Gardens Park and as a Master Gardener. You can see examples of her work at

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