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Kathie del Hierro

First and foremost, Kathie is a seasoned designer, with a keen sense of aesthetics. She views each home as a painting, and will always start with color, carefully choosing each palette to match the personality of, you, her client.

A long-time resident of Austin, Texas, Kathie started working as a designer in her 20's, she has also taught art in public schools to over 8,000 adolescents. She has received the title of "Teacher of the Year" in the prestigious Eanes ISD, where she worked for 17-years. Kathie has worked with hundreds of Autistic persons, and can work in your home to optimize the environment for those with special needs, mood and personality disorders. 

Recently, she has earned her Masters of Science in Psychology, graduating Summa cum Laude. She is currently working toward her Psy.D. (Ph.D. in Psychology) with an acute interest in how environments effect affect. Her unique combination of training in psychology and the design arts qualify her as a Psychological Designer. Kathie has also studied Feng Shui and is sensitive to environmental placement of objects in a home.

Kathie's relationship with you and everyone you live with, including your pets, is critical to how your home is designed. She takes the time to deeply listen, ask key questions, and even a few fun games to better understand how your home may be optimized for how you live. The experience she can bring to your home table will benefit your well-being for years to come. 

Kathie del Hierro's creativity in the news...

Hill Country teacher, artist, author leads by example Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Dane Anderson |

Photo by Dane Anderson

Surrounded by her first period students, del Hierro shows that working clay can be a nice, messy way to get rid of stress while creating something beautiful – in this case, fish representing rock stars.

Life for Kathie del Hierro is a curious river of decisions. Time is a precious commodity, and she has to stretch it to cover a lot of creative talent.

“A long time ago in my early 20s, I made a conscious decision to start filling my mind with my own creativity instead of focusing in on all the other awesome entertainment there is out there,” said the bundle of restrained energy. “But, I felt it was time to start producing. I remind myself of that frequently. Do I have time to sit down and watch this movie? Or would I rather be in the entertainment of my own brain?”

It’s no wonder the Hill Country Middle School art teacher is a hit with students. She has two young adult fiction books under her belt already and is hard at work on a third. She is an accomplished oil painter, with works in galleries and private collections across the country. As if that were not enough, she spends her summers taking groups of students through Europe to open their eyes to new cultures and new ideas.

“I tease people; I tell them I never sleep,” she said. “Actually, I wake up early, and I sit down in front of the computer. Coming out of that dream state of sleep is one of my most highly creative times of the day. I just start pounding it out. The ideas are fresh, they just flow.”

Painting is something del Hierro can do any time, anywhere. Her large canvases tell stories in vibrant color, stories of trees, gardens, rivers and Texas landscapes. You don’t just see a del Hierro painting; you feel it.

“For me, painting is spiritual,” she said. “There are certain musicians and certain artists where it is almost like the wind is blowing through them. Like Stevie Ray Vaughn – when he went through a guitar solo, it is almost like a spirit moving through him. It’s like that with painting for me. There is an energy that flows through you. You know it when you see something like that or hear it, smell it or taste it. That kind of experience captures us all.”

When she was three, del Hierro used to take pistachio shells, color them with markers and turn them into tiny shoes. She had an impressive collection. That’s when her mother told her she realized that she had an unusual child.

One of the things you notice about del Hierro right off the bat is her focus. Whatever has her attention is subject to a powerful force. One of the secrets to her success in so many different areas is her ability to channel that focus.

“I really believe I was put here to be creative and explore,” del Hierro said. “Everything inspires me. Traveling is a great inspiration. It’s one of the finest ways to grow and expand a person’s innate curiosity and creativity."

Even with her success with paintings and books, del Hierro continues to teach. She loves her students too much to give them up

“The delightfulness and spontaneity and laughter of my students helps keep me positive,” she said. ”You can’t be around young people without having a smile in your heart.

Last summer, del Hierro decided to find a way to share the wonders of travel with the students she adores. Undaunted, she packed her bags and loaded up 22 students aged 11–18 on a trip across the Adriatic

“I watched them open up creatively in a big way,” she said. “In another country, I can give them a take on art history and architecture that you just can’t get out of books or watching YouTube videos. You get a sense of scale, a sense of history, and you get the chance to talk to people who can tell you what happened.

This summer, del Hierro will take students and a few lucky adults on a 12-day excursion through Paris, the Cote d’Azur and Barcelona. Don’t think the trips will get in the way of her books. The author is hard at work on the second book of her trilogy, which she expects to release soon. Her first book, “Riding Polluto,” and the first book in her current young adult trilogy, “Day of the 15th Party,” are available on her website at kdelhierro.com. Get a sneak peak at her artwork on the site as well. To learn more about her European trips, click on the Adventures tab.

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Copyright © 2012 Westlake Picayune

Laura’s Library to display art teacher’s work: Artist’s work about nature, peace, By Katie Urbaszewski, Austin Community Newspapers Staff   

Photo contribution by Claire Wooldridge 

Hill Country Middle School art teacher Kathie del Hierro meditates before she paints in order to calm her mind, she said.

“For me, painting is meditation,” del Hierro said. “It quiets the mind, makes you one with the medium. There’s a flow of creative energy that works through my soul. That’s what I share with others and why I’m an artist.”

Themes of spirituality in nature are present in all her paintings, and the public will get a chance to view some of this art at the Laura Bush Community Library from this month through January.

Her art will be on display at the library beginning Nov. 17, with an opening celebration on Nov. 23 from 1:30-4 p.m. The event is free. Refreshments will be served.

Viewers can purchase the art hanging in the gallery. Prices range from $300 to $10,000, and some hand-thrown pottery will be about $30 a bowl.

del Hierro said she will donate 20 percent of the proceeds from her show to the Eanes Education Foundation.

Those interested must contact del Hierro directly at 512-228-1247 or kdelhierro@gmail.com to purchase a work.

del Hierro’s artwork has been displayed in galleries in Austin, Houston and Dallas before.

“This will be the largest one-woman show I’ve ever had, so I’m very excited about it,” she said.

del Hierro said she tries to capture peace in her artwork. Her largest painting on display at Laura’s Library was inspired by one of the most calming moments of her life, which came during one of the most trying times of her life, she said.

“My husband is a cancer survivor from two types of cancers: throat, body and lymph systems,” del Hierro said. “He was going through, as the doctors put it, ‘big guns chemo.’ ”

Naturally, it was a miserable time for her husband, as well as herself and their daughter, she said.

“My daughter, who was 15, wasn’t coping well with our family situation and made a few poor choices back then,” she said.

“It was a time of angst and concern for the family, and much work for me as a caretaker, and I was at a point of overload,” del Hierro recalled.

One night, she had a dream that was so powerful it woke her up.

“In the dream, I saw a pinpoint of really white light,” she said. “It came at me really fast and then hovered in my field of vision. Without speaking, just knowing, this angel let me know there was a delivering of God’s peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding. I felt it, and it stayed with me as my husband finished his chemo.

“He’s recovered, and he’s been cancer-free ever since. My daughter has become a wonderful mother with children of her own. The angel and the message that came with that dream stayed with me, and I felt I had no choice but to paint her.”

Hopefully, del Hierro said, she can now impart that peace to others through this painting, which will be the central work of the gallery. She combined that image of an angel with a real-life sighting of yellow birds flying above a pond full of water lilies.

“I just wanted to share the peace I felt in the dream with others,” she said.

 © Westlake Picayune 

Hill Country students globe-trot with art, language teachers Trip brings students to Europe, By Katie Urbaszewski, Austin Community Newspapers Staff 2014

Photo: Hill County Middle School teachers and students enjoy the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River, just outside of Nîmes, France. From left are: (front row) Shareef Elhadidi, Elena Gambarin; (back row) Kate Hirschfeld, William Nguyen Ziaja, art teacher Kathie del Hierro, Spanish teacher Luis Haro, Rachel Wolff, Anastasia Barnett.

Whenever Kathie del Hierro is teaching her students art history at Hill Country Middle School — about the Louvre, or the “Mona Lisa,” or the Sistine Chapel — she wishes she could whisk them away to the place or work of art they’re talking about so they could see it in person.

And, every summer for the past two years, she has.

del Hierro took some of her students to Paris, Spain and the French Riviera last June for an art, language and cultural immersion trip. She began taking her students to European countries in 2012 and is already planning for a trip to Greece and Turkey next summer.

“Traveling internationally is the best education that a person can get because you’re immersed in the environment, and it opens you up to a world larger than Austin. … Seeing famous works of art in person is an aesthetic experience that stays with a person for the rest of life and builds an appreciation and respect for visual art,” del Hierro said. “It makes us more human, seeing art in person.”

del Hierro is the only art teacher at Hill Country Middle School. This year, she’s teaching a little more than 500 students. Art is mandatory for students’ first year at the school, so she gets to know nearly everyone. With the small groups she takes to Europe, she gets to know those students very well.

“The groups we travel with, we really become like family,” she said.

In June, she traveled with 11 kids and eight adults.

“When I heard about this trip – already planned and organized, headed up by Spanish and art teachers, with a group of parents and kids from our community – who could resist that?” said Laura Hirschfeld, who went on the trip in June with her 11-year-old daughter, Kate.

“Kathie and one of the girls and I walked one evening in the south of France and looked back at the city – it was gorgeous and we had such a wonderful conversation,” Hirschfeld said. “It’s fun to be with these kids as they become adults and realize that the world is a huge incredible place with so much to see. It’s sort of a cliché, but it literally broadened the kids’ horizons and I got to be there to see it. … I learned that my daughter loves and appreciates art. I wasn’t expecting that. She still talks about some of the works we saw.”

Anastasia Barnett, 11, was new to the Eanes school district and wanted to go on the trip to make new friends as well as explore Europe, said her grandmother, Lilli Barnett, who accompanied her.

The Barnetts listed their favorite parts of the trip together: Trying out their French and Spanish in each country and getting to know the locals; writing a shared journal; pouring over cellphone photos each night.

Every evening over dinner, the group would recall their favorite parts of the day, Lilli Barnett said.

“They’re kids, you know, so at first they’d say, ‘Oh, I liked everything,’ ” Barnett said.

But the more del Hierro and the other adults would push the kids to say which parts of the trip were their favorites, the more articulate they became.

Lilli Barnett said she and Anastasia’s parents questioned at first if she was too young to really appreciate a trip like this, but Lilli Barnett said she quickly realized that their trip helps the students mature at the perfect time in their life.

“It helps them realize, ‘Wow, I am more than just this problem I had with this girl at school today,’ ” she said.

Anastasia said she had tears in her eyes when she recognized Paris below from the plane and wants to return to the city someday when she’s in college.

During the most recent trip, the group traveled with two tour directors — one in Spain, one in France — who would take them around cities for sightseeing and eating, then met up with individual tour guides who would lead them through sites like the Louvre and cathedrals.

Their French tour guide — who asked them to call him Froggy, a name which the British often snidely call the French — read “The Little Prince” to the kids on the train as they traveled to Nice, del Hierro said. Their Spanish tour guide talked with Hill Country’s Spanish teacher — Luis Haro, who also guided the students during the trip — as they taught the students differences in Mexican and Spanish dialect.

del Hierro said the highlights for her during the June trip were seeing Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” in Madrid and architect Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

And, like her students, she also enjoyed swimming in what she called the “crystal-clear blue” Mediterranean Sea in the south of France.

“We were in that sea every chance we got,” she said.

del Hierro said the teens and pre-teens who sign up for her trips to Europe are usually “the adventurous types,” so they enjoy trying new foods and exploring, which might be daunting for others. Some were scared when they first took public transportation through the cities as a group, but by the end of the trip, the students were leading her onto the subways and trains.

“Their eyes light up when they see things they haven’t seen before,” she said of her students.

 © 2014 Westlake Picayune 

 Picayune Newspaper Top Story Feature Article

Reading between the lines, Wednesday, February 22, 2012 | Esther Robards-Forbes |

Photo by Esther Robards-Forbes

Kathie del Hierro is a creative woman.

The accomplished artist and musician has earned a certificate of merit for her piano skills from the British School of Music and her oil paintings have been featured in galleries and a one-woman show.

But that kind of creativity can’t be contained to just two outlets.

Del Hierro, an art teacher at Hill Country Middle School, recently published her first full-length novel, “Day of the 15th Party.”

The first book in her “Psycho Psychic” series is a coming of age story. As a middle school teacher, she knows a little bit about coming of age as she’s watched hundreds of students do it over the years.

“It’s a joy to be in the classroom with them and they inspire me,” del Hierro said. “They inspire my creativity as much as I inspire them. Through the process of watching [me] writing this book, they have been excited and some of my biggest supporters.”

Del Hierro uses the world around her and her own experiences to create her stories. Her very first student, a young man named Frank, was the inspiration for her main character, Alonso.

“I saw a very bright boy,” del Hierro said of Frank, a teen immigrant whom she tutored in English. “I looked at him and saw that his teachers were failing him. After tutoring him for the entire summer, his score came up to 98 in English. We read together. That’s how I taught him English.”

Her fictional Alonso is a composite of many of her students from her days teaching in inner city schools, but she took a lot of the things she learned from Frank about growing up Latino in a rough neighborhood.

“It’s a book about, more than anything, the main character coming of age in today’s world, coming of age as an English-as-a-second-language student, as a psychic, an unrecognized gifted and talented student. It gives you a glimpse inside inner city schools, things that don’t get talked about a lot.”

The book deals with gangs, drugs, the supernatural, growing up as an illegal resident and street violence. For all those weighty topics, humor is an important element to del Hierro.

“There is so much drama and humor in youth,” Hierro said. “My students make me laugh every day.”

Del Hierro has been writing, painting and creating music since she was small. The daughter of a telecommunications spy, she moved 18 times in 17 years. Her creative outlets were also her escapes.

“You learn to adjust to change in the blink of an eye,” she said of her experience living all over the world. “You learn that life is all about change.”

She has learned about other cultures and made friends all over the world. Even her darkest moments have had their influence on her work.

“Our family has been touched by street violence,” she said, recounting the loss of her husband’s younger brother after he was shot during a carjacking in South Dallas.

“I don’t think you can be an effective writer unless you’ve had a multitude of really intense experiences,” del Hierro said.

“ ‘Day of the 15th Party,’ ” was hammered out during summer breaks and weekends over a two-year period. Del Hierro would snatch any spare moment she could find in her teacher’s schedule to write, even going so far as to strap her laptop to a treadmill so she could get some exercise too.

“I’m always trying to find innovative ways to multitask,” she said. “Some of my best thinking is done when I’m exercising – all that oxygen rich blood going to my brain makes me a better writer. Someone needs to place laptops on treadmills and stationary bikes in gyms instead of TVs – there would be a battle to get on them. Using bungee cords to strap a laptop to a treadmill is not a proud moment for me, but it got the job done.”

Kathie del Hierro’s “Day of the 15th Party” is available on Amazon in hard copy. A Kindle edition is expected out later this year. She’ll be doing a book signing at Trianon on Bee Cave Road 4-6 p.m. on March 3 and 4-5 p.m. on March 5. Copies can be ordered from Amazon or direct from her at kdelhierro@gmail.com .

by Journalist Ester Forbes



Copyright © 2012 Westlake Picayune