Andrea Raft’s work, like her manner, has a calming effect. It’s difficult to simply glance quickly at one of her mixed media panels and move away from it. They draw you in and hold you rapt. (Could this be bottled and sold to reduce stress and lower blood pressure? If only!) But why does the title of this profile also include three numbers? Because Andrea is an artist who currently works three ways: Solo (ONE), with her son, photographer Aaron Sedway (TWO), and with three other artists for a year-long collaboration here on All Things Ampersand (FOUR).
My love of texture and simplicity are founded on the principles of Asian style and eastern philosophy, blended with the influence of Mark Rothko and Anselm Kiefer, two of my favorite artists.
ONE – Working Solo
Andrea has been painting for almost thirty years. She describes making art as “a place where I can go and not worry, where I can calm myself and become immersed in the questions of what goes into each layer.” She doesn’t begin with an agenda or a plan. “Painting has given me a self and a purpose. Pain, joy – there are so many places to go and it’s all in the layers,” she says. “And painting has given me recognition, to be known in the world outside of the studio.”
Andrea’s art journey began at the Brentwood Art Center in Los Angeles, CA. She worked in traditional methods, painting in oil (mostly portraits), and when she lived in the Bahamas for seven years the limited available materials drove her choices: Paints in primary colors, plus black and white. During visits to Los Angeles, she took classes that led her to abstract work. And a pivotal 2-week program held in an eleventh-century village in Italy in 1989 sparked a love of old buildings with their peeling layers of paint and sense of history.
She sums it up this way: “I am most responsive to the natural world. I prefer abstract color fields, found objects, collage papers, metal; the photographs I include are revealed within layers of my mixed media pieces. My love of texture and simplicity are founded on the principles of Asian style and eastern philosophy, blended with the influence of Mark Rothko and Anselm Kiefer, two of my favorite artists.”
Andrea works with Ampersand Art Supply cradled panels, Golden acrylic paints and texture mediums, and collage papers she creates on 50% cotton paper that beautifully absorbs ink. She also uses mulberry paper because the torn edges will blur and disappear. She uses medium or cold wax as the final layer, applied with a rag and buffed.
TWO – Collaboration with her Son
Andrea began incorporating her son Aaron’s photography into her work in 2003. It became a collaboration when the two decided to team up on pieces, planning and bouncing ideas off each other, working seamlessly and enjoying the process as well as the results. Their collaborative work is exhibited and sold at Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, CA, and Wild Coyote Gallery, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Ampersand Two-inch, cradled panels . . .That’s the way to go!
The sides of Andrea’s artwork has always remained visible because she doesn’t like it framed, and the pieces she creates with her son are done this way, too. When she discovered Ampersand Art Supply panels online and began using them, it was the perfect fit. She’d been searching for a substrate that could stand up to multiple layers and photos.
“Ampersand Two-inch, cradled panels” she says. “That’s the way to go!”
A serendipitous meeting when they were dropping off artwork for an exhibit led to a spur-of-the-moment lunch and brought Andrea and three other artists together. “It was instant friendship,” is how Andrea describes that afternoon. For the last few years, Andrea, Meg Walling, Sylvia Torres and Pat Kodet have met once a month to cook and eat, share ideas and critique each other’s work.
In early 2018, the four decided to take on a year-long monthly challenge. Their surface of choice: Ampersand Gessobord. The collaboration, titled “Abstracted States of Mind,” is pushing all of them in new directions. They’ve chosen a different theme for each month, among them are Isolation, Gratitude, Whimsical, Romantic. And there is a different color palette or direction for each month as well, for example, Gratitude must include text, Courage will incorporate metallics.
Four works will be shown here on All Things Ampersand each month from May 2018 through April 2019. A profile about each artist will be published here as well. Each piece will be on a 12” x 12” Cradled Gessobord and at the end of the year all 48 pieces will be shown in an exhibition.
When Andrea Raft isn’t in her studio, a casita next to her home where “organized chaos” rules, she is gardening, making brushes, traveling, spending time with her family. Maybe the title of this article should have been “ONE, TWO, FOUR, SEVEN” to include her six grandchildren!
Andrea first studied painting at the Brentwood Art Center in Los Angeles. Where under its auspices she traveled to Giglio, Italy to study and paint. It was there she developed her interest in earthen hues, and textures, inspiring her to paint in overlapping layers, revealing an aged patina and history. Found objects, collage papers, photography, metal leaf are often found in her mixed media pieces. Her work is often serene and meditative.
Andrea has lived in Los Angeles, Freeport Bahamas, San Luis Obispo, and most recently moved to the Coachella Valley. Each shift from urban to rural, east, west and her travels to Asia have inspired her artist perceptions, further enabling her to study, paint and show her work in a host of disparate environments.