There was no kid art on the refrigerator in our house. Making art was not valued or encouraged in my family. Over the years, I had a desire to be more creative, but my inner critic didn’t allow for much.
Always interested, but never committed to art, I took many Adult Ed classes in drawing and painting only to accumulate piles of crumpled paper, self- judgement intact. I never actually considered becoming an artist. I thought you had to be born that way, able to produce a masterpiece on command.
It was winter. Miserable from surgery and treatment, I was desperate for distraction. I discovered that pulling colors across a page brought a sense of peace. Getting some relief, even temporary, was welcome, so of course, I kept at it. I painted nearly every day and continued through my recovery. There I was, at age 60, becoming an artist.
Creating pictures turned out to do even more than manage the pain. I was better able to handle the anxiety and elevated emotions of dealing with major illness. Painting became something I looked forward to for the sheer pleasure of making shapes and lines. I liked the satisfaction of developing an idea or following an impulse. I enjoyed honing my drawing skills, and shopping online for art supplies.
When I first started, I had no dedicated place to paint or to leave my materials. It took a lot of steps to gather my stuff, then clear space at the kitchen table. I didn’t always feel inspired when facing a blank page and I turned out plenty of practice pieces. Slipping back into the all or nothing ‘crumpled paper’ mode threatened. It was humbling to go back to being a beginner at sixty. I felt impatient as I wanted my work to be beautiful. Finding others to discuss and create art with helped me challenge my childhood beliefs that I was not born with the ‘gene’, and that making art was only for the elite, who effortlessly popped out brilliant canvases.
I came to understand that collecting my supplies for the day, filling the water jar, taping the paper to a board as well as study and practice, were all part of making art and there was no skipping ahead.
It took a while to learn that honoring the process in all that I do or have done silences my inner critic, who could constantly compare me with others my age who appear to have accomplished way more than I have.
Fast forward to the present. It’s been about seven years since I first picked up the brush. I find that my paintings not only make me happy, but that others enjoy them as well. I still love learning and experimenting. I am less likely to crumple paper. And I continue to love buying art supplies.
Bio: In the harsh New England winter of 2012, Andrea Feldman, multiple cancer survivor/ thriver, was homebound struggling with the effects of chemotherapy. She discovered painting as a way to distract herself and help manage her discomfort. She documented her story with a talk and slideshow and a self-published book. Her iconic self-portrait of The Artful Warrior won honorable mention in the 2014 issue of Portrait Magazine. Andrea has shown her artwork in galleries, both in the Berkshires and in Boston and sold pieces to private collectors.
Since 2013, Feldman has written about her artwork and shared her process on her blog Andreafeldmanstudio.blogspot.com.
Andrea continues to paint and write on a regular basis. Her images come from the beautiful environment as well as her imagination. Having relocated to southern Florida in 2018 she admits that she’s still adjusting to the change of palette.