Andrea Cruz was born in South Lake Tahoe and moved to Temecula, CA at an early age. Her grandparents and her father owned a Construction Company; smells of blueprints and chopped wood were very familiar. She grew up on land filled with every fruit tree, vegetables of every color with chickens running freely. Her grandfather was a color-blind Artist. His paintings in his house would tell a story of the places that he visited. “I remember all of the photos he used to reference were marked up with pencil lines of a grid, taped up on his easel, and oils on his palette,” says, Cruz. “He would line the walls of my house and theirs like an art gallery of his paintings.”
Her grandfather drew upon his own experiences and led an impression on Cruz. “When I would wander up to their house, my grandpa would go out to one of his trees, grab a branch off, and bring it in the house, “Draw this” he would say.” “ I would pull out my pencil and a piece of paper, and start sketching my picture. It didn’t take long for me to feel very comfortable sitting in my spot, with a pencil in my hand, sitting in front of the drawer that my grandparents labeled as my art drawer.”
At 8-years old, Cruz’s mom revealed that she had breast cancer. She found an outlet to deal with her sadness by gravitating closer to her pencil and paper. At the age of 10, her mother passed away and she fully engaged with her art.
Cruz has been painting for 20 years. Her influences mainly come from people who are within their element. “You see it on their face, when they let all worries and judgments aside, allowing their internal spirit to speak through them.” “Whether it is a Musician, Dancer, or an Athlete: when I see this, that is what inspires me.”
One evening, Cruz recalls having a horrible headache. She woke up the next morning and her left eye was closed shut. She was unable to open it. She went to the hospital and she had a hemorrhaging brain tumor on her pituitary gland. The tumor had grown so high that it had bruised her eye nerve. After her surgery, she could open her eye, but with little mobility. She spent the next 2 weeks locking herself in a room, with her canvas, paints, and brushes. Each month that went by, she would find her vision slowly getting better. Her first teaching class after her surgery was the most challenging, as her confidence was not all there, and neither was her depth perception. Slowly, her eyesight started coming back and so did her ability to teach and paint at a greater level. Today, her vision has turned around, about 95% and she is able to teach others, as well as, paint fine art pieces.
With her Business Partner, she inspires others by going to hospitals and hosting painting events for breast cancer survivors. “ It is so powerful, and the laughter I hear during the events, and the smiles on their faces, makes me believe that part of their worries have gone away.” Cruz also teaches at The Orangewood Foundation, for foster kids that are about to be aged out of the system. She describes art as a voice within, and when you express that voice freely, it allows confidence, accomplishment, and the feelings of being grounded.
If you could paint your selfportrait what would it look like? “My portrait would be a multitude of colors. Colors express emotion, and I feel that based on the events that I have been faced with, they would be a very loud combination of colors.” “The colors would be interconnected that would have a harmonious link to each other.” “I donated a painting to Girls Inc.,” “It was a girl lying on her belly in the grass, with her feet bent up. Her hands are under her chin as she looks up to a swarm of butterfly surrounding her. I took one of my grandpa’s photos of flowers and painted them on the canvas as well. The butterflies represented all the possibilities that surround her, before self-doubt, judgments, and the world was less complicated.” “ At the age of the girl in the painting, I would take myself back there as my self- portrait.”
You can find Cruz’s work throughout Southern California, as well as the Paso Robles Winery. Her work has also been featured in a couple of movies last year, “Precious Metals”, and “Dead Sexy Movie.”