by Andrea Placer
Some artists say they’ve always wanted to draw or make art; that drawing and making art have always been a part of their lives. Those thoughts and feelings were not true in my case. Growing up, I never consciously thought that making art would ever be a significant part of my life.
The path of my young life, growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was quite traditional: I finished college with a B.A in Biology, became a teacher (high school Science and Biology) married, started a family and then stopped teaching to care for our home and family full time. My interests and “strengths” were in academics, the sciences, and in language arts. When I later entered graduate school, it was to study Immunology.
"Autumn's Child" 12 x 9. One of my early drawings, of my granddaughter who is now 20.
Thinking back on those years, I did, however, spend time when possible going to adult-ed classes or dabbling at home in “‘hobby” activities that involved crafts, and drawing or painting. As the years passed, we lived in different areas and I always gravitated to an art-related class at a local school, Y, or art center. I tried pottery, acrylic, watercolor, oil painting, and enjoyed embroidery, crewel, knitting and sewing. I engaged all of these activities, but didn’t take them seriously. There was never a thought that what I did was worthy of anything more than my family’s appreciation.
That all changed when I viewed an exhibit of drawings, that turned out to be colored pencil, and was intrigued by them. I bought a book, a set of pencils and decided to try this “new” medium. I remember the feelings when I completed my first drawing; it was a combination of delight, pride and an intense desire to do more! I immodestly thought it was terrific. Drawing felt like a “perfect fit” to my personality, requiring patience and a willingness to work slowly and carefully. At that point I was still working full time as a Learning Disabilities Consultant in a local NJ school district. I had earned a Masters degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in the late 70’s and worked on a Child Study Team (which I then headed) as an educational diagnostician (along with a School Social Worker and School Psychologist) to determine the eligibility of students for special education services. We also planned and monitored their programs.
"Petal Power" 11 x 14. The 1st of my drawings accepted into the CPSA International Exhibition.
My responsibilities didn’t leave much free time for art, but I would look forward to an hour or so (maybe) in the evening, working on a drawing in a large closet where I had set up a drawing surface. I was hooked! I continued to draw with colored pencils, took a class in graphite pencil drawing (which I still enjoy very much), and over the next couple of years, produced a group of drawings that pleased me. I decided to show them in a local outdoor arts and crafts show. Listening to people react very positively to them (when they didn’t know I was listening) was very encouraging, and when someone wanted to buy one (the 1st I had done that I loved) my confidence and motivation soared. Several years later I retired and was able (and very willing) to devote a lot more time to drawing. I took a chance and entered a non-members show at the Salmagundi Club in New York. I was thrilled to have it accepted and be part of such a prestigious show. As icing on the cake, it even received an award and I was invited to apply for membership.
Fast forward to the present. Drawing has provided me some wonderful experiences: meeting and getting to know other artists, membership in a gallery, participation in national and international juried shows with great artists, awards and recognition of my work, signature status in CPSA, membership in art organizations, and enjoyment of the work of other artists I’ve come to know. It has also given me the “gift” of having art be a significant part of my life and enriching my “later” years in ways I never imagined.
"Weathered Memories" 14 x 10 1/2. An example of my attraction to textured, weathered surfaces.
I’ve been very fortunate to have found this part of me that I really never knew or believed existed. It’s the part that derives tremendous pleasure from the drawing process; the part that communicates through a visual language; the part that allows me to express my enjoyment and wonder at the beauty of the world around me, and natural world in particular (maybe that’s the Biology major in me!), and share that with others through my drawings.
Andrea was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but has lived in New Jersey for more than 40 years. She is essentially self-taught as a colored pencil artist, having begun to draw seriously in her late 50’s. Her work emphasizes textures, shapes, and patterns, a kind of, “real abstraction”. Andrea is a signature member of the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA,CPX), and is especially proud of having had her drawings published in several issues of CP Treasures, and several Richeson75 books.
See more from Andrea at: www.andreaplacer.com