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Meet CJ Rider of Open Media Art Class in East Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to CJ Rider.

CJ, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
The desire to share the arts has lead me on an interesting journey!

Autodidact; a fun word for self-taught, which is how I developed my skills. I learned by practice and experimentation well before a myriad of art products, the internet, DVD’s, tons of art books, etc. were produced. Now, with my art box full of supplies I look back and wonder how I ever survived

Not only do I teach, but I have been involved in all aspects of art leagues & shows judging art fairs and more.

One project dear to my heart is for many years I ran (&founded) a “Budding Artist” program for underprivileged children. I taught and supplied product (along with donations) a fun art project each week for 12-15 children. Very rewarding!

A favorite project is an art advice column in collaboration with the Arizona Consortium for the Arts “AskCJ”

Where artists can ask any art or art product question and I will share my knowledge.

I’ve tried my hand at art shows & galleries. It is all fun, but I seem to always circle back to some form of teaching.

I have run specialty workshops in portraiture, watercolor, acrylic, oil, pencil & encaustic as well as my current weekly open medium group class

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In the early to mid-60’s there were challenges to progressing in the arts as there was no real way to learn in my little ‘back East’ town. No communities of artists available. No internet, no lesson availability.

Many artists were private about their techniques if you were lucky enough to even speak to one.

So as I practiced and figured things out on my own, I became more convinced I wanted to spread the word on the “how to’s” of the art world!

And I haven’t stopped!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Open Media art class – what should we know?
As an artist I have experienced many exciting mediums and enjoy them all! But find I must focus to be of the most service to my art friends!

I am most known for my Open Medium Art Classes to students. This is where the student can bring in their art project (Drawing and/or Painting) any medium and I will assist them at any stage of the project.

Personally, I am known for cowboy portrait and Western artworks & large Florals but I will paint most any subject as a commission. I am often told what sets me apart is the ability to capture not just a likeness, but personality or special feeling of the sitter or object. I love what I do.

What I’ve loved most is my chance to give back through years of my BuddingArtist Program for children; and also through my AskCJ Q&A blog where I promote Arizona Consortium for the Arts. I enjoy helping people.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Through it all, my dear husband of 48years, Donald Rider. A 30 year retired science educator has stood by my side.

Without his support I would not have been able to do it. It is a huge job toting all of my equipment to fairs, demo’s shows, events and I could never have done it without his unwavering dedication to me. – He knows…


  • Weekly/ Thursday/ Three Hour Art class/ $30.00 per class

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Donald E Rider
CJ Rider

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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