Most of us bring back mementos of our travels—a silk scarf from Paris; Venetian blown glass from Italy; a container of sand from the white beaches of the Mediterranean. When Barrington artist Ann Feldman travels around the world with her husband, she brings back a very different kind of memento—something less tangible that you cannot see or hold, at first.
“When I travel, I bring back ideas for paintings; my impressions of a place,” Feldman says. She will make sketches along the way, “instead of photographs,” and use them later when she is ready to paint. “I love to paint after I travel. I’ll use my sketches as a jumping off point for my paintings. My goal is to capture the essence of a place with paint.” Feldman has traveled around Europe, South America, Greece, and even Russia with her mother several years ago. “Whenever I am on vacation anywhere, I go to the galleries in the area, poke around, talk with the sellers and the artists to find out what is going on in the local art scene.” She also loves to attend art shows, including the annual SOFA show in Chicago.
Before her current day artist’s life, she grew up in New Orleans, and found herself drawn to arty things. She took art lessons and played the violin. “I was very exposed to the arts when I was younger. My parents took me all over NOLA, including the French Quarter. When the other kids went to camp, I found myself in summer art classes.”
Like many artists, she landed in another career for a time (“something more marketable,” she says), dabbling in different mediums along the way. She moved around, living in Omaha and Michigan, getting her MBA from Northwestern, and having a career in health care consulting. Twenty-seven years ago, when she found herself on an airplane all the time, and started having children, she and her husband John settled in Barrington.
In addition to art, Feldman was a “horse person” for most of her life as well. “I rode until my third child was born,” she explains. That’s one of the reasons they chose Barrington. “I love the city and I loved horses. Barrington satisfied both passions, because it is so accessible to the city. And we have Deer Park Forest Preserve right beyond our own backyard.” It was a winwin. When they renovated their house, Feldman took over the third floor and built a studio in the attic space for her studio. She started pursing her art seriously, taking watercolor classes at the local Kaleidoscope School of Fine Art, then switched to oils, and attended portraiture workshops in Wisconsin every summer while her kids were at camp.
“I was always taking workshops and figuring out what I wanted to do,” she says. Eventually, she enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago, where she continues to take classes. She also taught art at Harper College for a time, and currently teaches oil painting at Barrington Cultural Arts Center.
Feldman’s portfolio ranges from portraits and landscapes to still life’s and figurative paintings. Her art has a distinctive quality to it, in part because she often uses a palette knife (rather than a paintbrush) to “sculpt” her impressions onto a canvas.
“Using a palette knife is a bit like riding a horse without any rein,” she laughs. “You can’t be in too much control, which I really like. The paint becomes looser and more expressive; you don’t (and can’t) worry too much about detail. And it’s very messy!” Wanting to share her enthusiasm, she has taught others how to paint with palette knives. “It’s a great exercise to get them out of that mind space and be more expressive.”
Feldman’s art, on the other hand, is decidedly expressive. So much so that she is represented by two galleries: Hildt Gallery in Chicago; and J. Petter Gallery in Saugatuck, Michigan. She will also have an upcoming showing of her “Orchid” painting at Crooked Tree Gallery in Traverse City, Michigan for the Oil Painters of America juried salon show.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have national exposure,” she says. “I really enjoy going to these shows to see all of the art that is accepted. My horizons are always widened by exposure to different artists, techniques, and processes, which are all unique.”
It’s clear that Feldman’s art education and growth will never end. These days, she finds herself going larger and larger with her canvases, and finding expression through more abstract pieces. “I’m feeling the pull right now, exploring color palettes, and staying loose and interpretive.”
In closing, she says: “I encourage people to keep creativity in their lives in some form or another. Perhaps they won’t get rich while they pursue their art, but their lives will be richer for it, and their souls will be fulfilled. In this age of technology, it’s important to stay in touch with what makes each of us unique.”
For more information, visit annfeldmanartist.com.