Valrico Artist Offers Art and Cooking Classes from Her Home

Ira McEachern has had a passion for art and cooking since she was a little girl. Now, you can learn from her years of experience.

According to Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, “creativity is allowing yourself you make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Ira McEachern, a local self-proclaimed artist and creator of Artsy & Funky Soul, can attest to Adams’ philosophy. “Art is fun,” said McEachern! “I get a chance to be creative and experiment; sometime I am not happy with the results but I always learn something.  My motto is that mistakes are okay, as long as you learn from them and do it better next time.”

Born and raised in the capital city of Indonesia, McEachern realized her passion for art while in the third grade. Having a great appreciating for different types of art – canvas, furniture, fabric and glass painting, mosaic and recycled art to name a few, McEachern has had the opportunity to study art on various levels.

While still living in Indonesia, she studied interior design and took painting classes. While living in San Antonio, McEachern took an interest in China painting – painting on porcelain – and had the opportunity to take a class from the famous artist Vicky York. It was while in San Antonio that McEachern also took an interest in sculpture using raw clay. In 2000, her family relocated to Tampa and she was put on a two year waiting list for a pottery class at the Hyde Park Art Studio in South Tampa. Learning to create her art by hand, rather than a pottery wheel, McEachern makes patterns and molds using whatever she can find around the house.

It was after taking pottery classes at the Hyde Park Art Studio that McEachern became very serious about her art and decided to teach. “I love to share my knowledge with others,” said McEachern.

Located in Valrico, McEachern built a separate studio on her residential property that includes an art gallery, teaching room, kiln room, bathroom and workspace for her husband John. Offering a pottery workshop for $60 per adult, each class involves two visits to the studio – the first to create the art, the second to paint the art piece.

McEachern also teaches pottery at the Brandon and Riverview Montessori schools and for the past two years she has offered a summer art camp at her studio for children. Camp is $115 per child and is held Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until noon.

Since McEachern also has a passion for cooking, especially Asian food, she began teaching a cooking class while still living in Texas. After moving to Tampa, she continued this practice. Each cooking class (usually made up of six students) is $60 per participant and students learn between six and seven different recipes using a hands-on approach. Chicken sate with peanut sauce, three different types of egg rolls, Thai chicken curry, coconut rice, Indonesia fried noodles, and Indonesian corn fritters are just a sampling.

If interested in participating in an art or cooking class, call McEachern at 813-486-9831. Her website, www.artsyfunkysoul.com is in the process of being built so check back often for updates.

“Keep practicing your art, the more you do the better you get, advises McEachern. “Go outside the box, do not be afraid to experiment, you will always learn from any mistakes you make. Take different art classes, go to the library and check out some books, also go on the internet, you can always find ideas and inspiration from different places.”


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