Ben Johnson

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Pro-life classical-realist artist: I love art, but motherhood has ‘taught me everything’

Ben Johnson
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FRONT ROYAL, VIRGINIA, April 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – From the time she was a child, Andrea Nutt Falce knew she wanted to be an artist. What she only learned later was the importance of preserving life, the hidden joy of motherhood, and how her artwork could help save lives.

Falce (pronounce “False”) has donated a painting to be auctioned at LifeSiteNews.com’s 15th anniversary gala in the Washington, D.C., area on April 28. (Click here to find out how to buy tickets to the gala: those who are unable to attend in person can also purchase “virtual” tickets).

Falce told LifeSiteNews.com she knew as a child growing up outside Philadelphia that she was going to become a painter someday. Her mother, an art teacher, and father, an orthopedic surgeon with a passion for the canvas, would take her to the museum, where she lost herself in landscape paintings. “It was initially a very emotional response,” Falce told LifeSiteNews. Paintings, especially those produced according to the style of classical realism, “transported me, and moved me and made me think of God. It started as an emotional response, and quickly as I would examine these realist paintings and beyond that travel through them, it became a spiritual journey.”

From childhood, Andrea knew she had the gift of artistic ability. “I think it tends to be something that’s genetic. I think it can be cultivated to an extent, but a lot of people either have it or they don’t,” she said. She began formal art training at 14. After graduating with a fine arts degree from George Washington University at age 19, she had a stark epiphany. “I realized I lacked the skill to be the kind of realist painter that I admired,” she said. “Somehow, I just imagined I would learn that craft as a fine arts major. It took me an awakening to realize I did not have the full painter’s vocabulary to create the imagery I needed to make.”

That’s when one of her professors gave her some good advice, Falce said: “If you really want to pursue art and you really want to learn to become a realist painter like what inspired you in the museums, you need to find an artist.” After some searching, she studied under Romiro Sanchez and other artists at the Florence Academy of Art for four years. “If I hadn’t really honed my ability, I’m afraid I would never have been able to take it where I wanted it to go,” she said.

Since then, Andrea has painted for galleries and private commissions, secular as well as religious.

At the same time, she focused her views on the question of life and, in the process, recommitted herself to her faith. During college, she was asked if she was “pro-life or pro-choice.” She decided she did not know enough about the subject and sought the truth about when life begins. “I became very adamantly pro-life upon considering the circumstances of the question,” she said, and the discovery led her to return to the Catholic faith she was raised in. “That was the first thing that affected me going into marriage,” she said. “I knew if I was going to marry my husband, I was going to be open to life.”

She met her husband after college, while on a medical trip to Nicaragua, where he served in the Coast Guard. “I wasn’t one of these women who dreamed of marriage,” she admitted. “In fact, I was probably more the image of the proverbial modern day man who sees marriage as the old ball-and-chain. And I was afraid that it would mean giving up what I had worked tremendously hard to achieve and had been the only motivation for my entire young life.” However, her husband-to-be recognized how important art was to her life and vowed to find a way that she could continue painting.

Then motherhood made an unexpected entrance. “It was a huge lesson,” Falce said. “It taught me everything.”

“I was not ready when our first baby was conceived,” she said. “I was terrified the whole pregnancy through.”

“Really what I thought about was myself and my career,” she said. “What is this going to do with my painting? It seemed like a huge career sacrifice to be a mother, and it was. There were galleries I no longer dealt with after I became a mom, because I could see I didn’t have the image that appealed to them anymore.”

But she continued to work, and she found a greater fulfillment. “At the end of the day, I think about my painting and I worry about it, but I dream about my kids,” she said. “No matter how beautiful the greatest painting that has ever been made is, it can’t compare to God’s creation, one life, one soul.”

The scene she donated for the LifeSiteNews gala depicts a grove of saplings near her parents’ home in Georgia. “It’s one of those moments that God created that I wish to pay homage to,” she said. “The prevailing thought in my painting all the time is, ‘I saw this beautiful thing. See it with me.’”

“Every time I approach a canvas I try to approach it with the help of the Holy Spirit,” she told LifeSiteNews.

Americans are constantly affected by artwork, often without realizing it, Falce said. “We have a choice in television in music, in painting, in magazines. All this art has a purpose. Somebody made it. Somebody had an intention when they made it, and that intention is to affect you.”

“Be so careful what you let affect you,” Falce told LifeSiteNews. “What you let into yourself is going to be what you believe.”

“The more we can see and love beauty, the more we communicate on a higher and holier level as human beings,” Falce said.

She said as much as art has shaped her life, giving the gift of life to her two children, ages two and four, has been the pivotal event in her life – and would be for every woman who becomes open to it. “I have a tremendous respect for painting or art, and it can move the masses for good or evil,” she said, “but one human life is still bigger. That was the main thing that I learned becoming a mother and a wife”

“No matter what my ambitions were it’s never going to be as big as what God made in a human life, and the privileges I have serving these lives.”

LifeSiteNews’ 15th anniversary gala will be held on April 28, at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport Hotel in Herndon, Virginia. Planned Parenthood whistleblower and pro-life activist Abby Johnson will be the keynote speaker. Individual tickets and table sponsorships are available.

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