by Michael Hogan

Laura Kaderabek Eyring, 47, has art in her blood. She grew up in a musical family in Bala Cynwyd; her father was the First Trumpet for the Philadelphia Orchestra. She began drawing, painting and playing the piano at a very early age. “When I was 10, my parents took us to Czechoslovakia, and I tried to draw everything that I saw so that I could bring that back as my souvenir. Well, I didn’t draw everything, but I did as much as I could.”

Laura lives in Mt. Airy with husband Adam, 38, son Tristan, 7, and daughter Nadja, 4.

At the age of 18, she felt she needed to make a choice between piano and art. “I chose art because I felt that music had been too much structure for me at an early age,” she said, “but that structure taught me to think long-term and has been a good foundation for my painting.”

Laura graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1987, and then from the University of Pennsylvania with a BFA in 1990. During that time she spent a summer in Haiti working as an illustrator for French and Canadian engineers and agronomists who were teaching local farmers planting techniques to avoid soil erosion.

Besides falling in love with Haiti for what she describes as a “lively and wonderful arts community,” it was there that she also became interested in environmental issues of water quality and treatment. Later, she decided to go back to school, earning a second Bachelor’s degree, this time in chemistry, from Drexel University in 2001. She now works as a program scientist in the research unit of the Philadelphia Water Department.

“I wasn’t giving up art,” she said. “I was giving up waitressing!” In fact, Laura believes that the non-verbal patterns encountered in both music and math have contributed to her success as an artist. She has had shows at the Art Forms Gallery in Manayunk and the Rosenfeld Gallery in Olde City. Her next show will be on Sunday, Nov. 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Germantown Jewish Centre’s Craft Show, 400 W. Ellet St. (near Lincoln Drive) in West Mt. Airy. Most of her earlier work was done with oils, but after having children she began looking for a medium more compatible with having kids in the house. “The focus of my art is no longer my own self-interest now that I have children,” she explained.

Once her son began school, she spent a great deal of time in the classroom drawing with the children using markers and colored pencils. “I learned to draw all the animals that kids love,” she said. “They would ask me to draw a picture of them with their dog or cat, or they would say things like ‘Put me on a dragon; draw me in a spaceship.’”

One day at home her son asked her to draw a picture of him and Yoyo (their dog) with a dinosaur, and she knew she had to do something with this new pastime. Her latest venture, “Customized Children’s Art,” features bright, fun and fantastical scenes into which she will customize a drawing of a child and her or his favorite pet(s). She says these illustrations have been greatly influenced by Dr. Seuss.

“Once I realized that the buildings didn’t have to be structurally sound,” she said, “it really freed me up to make the pictures more of a fantasy.” These works can be seen and purchased on her website: www.etsy.com/shop/redwingart. A portion of all sales will go to Laura’s two favorite charities, Save the Children and the Pennsylvania Humane Society.

Laura remains active at Jenks Elementary, the school her children attend, and hopes to spend more time in the classroom teaching art and art appreciation. “I think it’s important for kids to learn to be visually sensitive,” she said. “Art figures into other parts of life and allows you to be more in tune with your environment.” Along with teaching art, other future goals include continuing to develop and publish her work and to illustrate children’s books.

Mrs. Eyring lives at home in Mt. Airy with her husband, Adam, their two children, Tristan, 7, and Nadja, 4, and the family pets, Yoyo and Peter. She can be reached at lauraeyring@gmail.com.

Michael Hogan is a local resident and a graduate student at Chestnut Hill College.