Each of our talented teachers, carefully hand-chosen by our Director for a kind, warm personality, strong classical artistic painting skills, and enthusiasm for working children, either has a fine art degree such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, or is currently working toward one. Every teacher participates in 40 hours of hands-on, project-based artwork training with our Director, plus another 20+ hours in the classroom with an experienced teacher, to ensure consistent excellence in instruction.

Teachers are supported over time by in-classroom observations and out-of-class artwork reviews by our studio managers, as well as periodic refresher training to keep teaching skills sharp. At Art Steps, we pride ourselves on providing ongoing mentorship to staff, so that every single teacher can truly cultivate his or her passion for passing the time-honored tradition of classical painting skills to the next generation.

All teachers have been fingerprinted and background checked through the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Have you met your child's teacher? Before and after class, be sure to come in and chat! We love to be in touch with you!
Interested in teaching at Art Steps? Apply Here!

Hilary Key, Director

Hilary Key is the co-founder and CEO of Art Steps, having directed our studios since 1999. Hilary has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to joyfully running the show, Hilary enjoys watercolor and oil painting, as well as drawing together with her two sons. She also serves as founder and President of our nonprofit outreach program, Bright Artists.


Lora Lingl, our Regional Manager in charge of ensuring quality in all locations, has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in sculpture from California State University, Fullerton. An attentive, caring mentor with a passion for fine art, Ms. Lora sees to it that all studios have what they need. Teaching our world-class fine art program since 2008, she has become its strongest advocate in our studios, ensuring that her teachers are well-prepared and equipped to succeed. Her dedication to the well-being of children manifests itself in her warm, kind, welcoming demeanor, as well as her steadfast commitment to ethical and artistic excellence.


Miss Debi, our Central Office Manager, is a kind, caring former pre-school teacher who runs our central office, seeing to it that all studios serve our families well. She handles scheduling and finance, ensuring that parents are always well-cared for, and that things hum along smoothly in our offices. Miss Debi understands our program thoroughly, having scheduled herself into a class to pursue her own artistic mastery.


Gemma Magdaluyo, our Mission Viejo Studio Manager, graduated from the Laguna College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration, with emphasis on drawing and painting. A highly skilled, organized teacher who exudes compassion and thinks well on her feet, she constantly supports and uplifts those around her. Gemma's calm, steady presence reliably provides the sort of strong leadership her staff have come to rely on, and her outstanding sense of time management and orderliness make her the perfect person to provide hands-on help to parents in her office. Her passionate commitment to watching all her students develop exceptional drawing and painting skills for life make her an outstanding mentor to her strong team of teachers, serving each and every child in her studio.


Halie Santillan, the Studio Manager for Art Steps Yorba Linda, holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Arts from California State University Long Beach. Halie has amazing skills in classical oil painting, and her personable, kind, caring nature is just as strong. Years of customer service and management experience, including years as our studio's Assistant Manager, have made her responsible, reliable, and ready for challenges. Once you meet her, you will find that she is perfectly suited to teaching all ages. She provides wonderful support to all of our teachers, as well as personalized, exceptional mentorship to each of her lucky students.


Kathleen "Kat" Derby, once the Mission Viejo studio's Assistant Manager, is now Studio Manager for our new Costa Mesa location. She has a well-rounded artistic background as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. Upbeat and fun, Ms. Kat has a degree in Illustration and Animation from California State University, Long Beach. Teaching runs in her family, so having helped in her mother's elementary classroom over the years has provided her with a deeply developed sense of how to relate to kids. Her upbeat, can-do spirit and amazing sense of teamwork have brought wonderful energy and vibrancy to her students, their families, and our staff as a whole.


Annie, our Teen Program Director, is an extremely dedicated fine artist holding two degrees from Cal State Fullerton: a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis in Drawing and Painting, as well as a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in painting at California State University, Long Beach. Annie is not only personable and kind, but a first-class painter with outstanding technical skill. Her experience and passion for teaching advanced skills makes her the perfect mentor to our most dedicated teens.


Rae Finlayson is completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from California State University, Fullerton, where she skillfully cultivates a strong passion for classical painting and drawing. Her love of fine art is rivaled only by the joy she finds in teaching children. Miss Rae absolutely lights up while teaching, both at the Yorba Linda studio, and at our nonprofit outreach program, Bright Artists, where she also serves as Program Manager.


Allie Quinn has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Brigham Young University, where she studied fine art and pottery. Warm, personable, and quick-thinking, Miss Allie has helped with her parents' busy petting zoo business for years, and absolutely loves working with children. Allie is particularly organized and a quick study, executing our fine art program with excellence, and making for a comfortable and content classroom as kids have fun learning in her class. Miss Allie has also served as the Program Manager and teacher for our nonprofit organization, Bright Artists.


Andrew Cortez is an active student at the Laguna College of Art and Design, pursuing his Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree with a minor in illustration. With strong graphic, conceptual and representational drawing and painting skills, Andrew takes great joy in both making art and in teaching. He brings levity, connection and skill to each of the students he teaches. Look for Mr. Andrew in the Yorba Linda studio on weekends and throughout the week!


Brendan Kendrick attends California State University, Fullerton, majoring in illustration, and has loved the environment at our studio so much, that he has worked as a teacher's aide for over a year, while hoping to be considered for a teaching position. As it turns out, Brendan, an Eagle Scout with a positive attitude, exceptional patience, and a caring heart, has incredible drawing and painting skills. He admires other artists greatly, and relishes soaking up as much information as he can to keep growing. Brendan delights in working with kids, and sharing his wonderful perspective on the technical aspect of fine art.


Dana Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She has a minor in art history, and a Master of Fine Art degree from the Laguna College of Art and Design. A former swim instructor, Dana comes to us with an excellent sense of intuition around children. She couldn't be warmer, kinder, or more talented as a painter, so we know that her students will love working with her. Dana is a wonderful addition to our amazing Mission Viejo staff.


Dekota Flaherty currently attends California State University Fullerton, majoring in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in Drawing and Painting. Dekota is a phenomenal oil painter and a dedicated artist. Her passion for working with children stems from her own memories of her mother's support. She enjoyed plenty of creative opportunities as a child, and entering coloring contests are some of her favorite memories. Dekota has a kindhearted, expressive nature that we know our children and teens love.


Diana Danielis is a talented professional illustrator and graphic designer. She has studied at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design and the Art Institute of Southern California, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach. An experienced artist, she has created and exhibited a wide range of public and private art projects throughout Southern California. Diana's warm, bubbly, quirky, fun personality complements her outstanding drawing and painting skills, making her an ideal teacher both for Art Steps in Yorba Linda, and the students she teaches regularly for our nonprofit program, Bright Artists.


Elizabeth Eadens possesses a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, and a Masters of Fine Art from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Her background as a yoga instructor helps her bring a balanced sense of calm, peace and vibrant energy to her classes, and her particular love of figure painting is evident in her passion for passing the principles of classical realism along to her students. All the while, Miss Elizabeth makes it clear that she cares about every student, as they journey from new to experienced fine artist in their own right.


Kristie Kochan started taking Art Steps classes at the age of nine and continued through high school, where she also became a teacher's aide. Kristie taught with us briefly after finishing high school, and is now honing her stunning classical drawing skills at Saddleback College. We are thrilled to watch how Kristie has developed from a hopeful young student into a warm, confident, communicative, friendly teacher. Fun fact: Kristie's pastel cat from younger days appears on the front of our website!


Marielle Bas has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Cal State Fullerton, and is a talented, highly skilled artist in her own right. Her boundless enthusiasm for visual art, her genuine caring for the people around her and her steady, trustworthy attendance of classes make Marielle a treasured member of our team. With unparalleled patience, Marielle thrives at providing an outstanding class to every possible type of student. While her performance in class shows that she is committed to excellence in teaching classical realism, Marielle also serves as a portrait artist inside Disneyland, and brings their signature cheer, care and tact in working with kids and their families.


Mia Andrea, an Art Steps student herself from age 7 though 17, loyally served as a teacher's aide at our Yorba Linda location for two years before being promoted to the role of teacher in 2017. Currently an Animation major at Chapman University, Mia has amazing artistic talent, along with all of the patience, kindness, reliability and attentiveness our students deserve. We absolutely love watching Mia pass her skills on to the next generation of young artists.


Nina Ulett is an extraordinarily talented painter who holds a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the Laguna College of Art and Design, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Having studied in Italy as well as Laguna Beach, she has participated in multiple exhibitions and received numerous awards and honors for her work. Nina has a kind, patient demeanor and wonderful spirit of cooperation that make her a fantastic mentor to students, and a valuable part of our team.


Taylor Harai, assistant manager at our Mission Viejo studio, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of California Santa Cruz. She majored in Art and minored in History of Art and Visual Culture. Taylor comes to teaching at Art Steps with great enthusiasm, having spent seven years of her childhood, age 7 through 14, as a student in our program! In addition to her stellar artistic talent, Miss Taylor is full of smiles and kindness, so we are thrilled that she has become a vital part of our team.