Meet Anita Cholewa, A 2020-21 RRAC Artist Mentorship Program Mentee


As our Mentorship program year is rapping up, I sat down with mentee Anita Cholewa to see how the year went for her and to get to know her a bit better.

Anita grew up in Chicago. She started drawing as a child and her father noticed her talent and signed her up for drawing classes at the Chicago Art Institute. Her father encouraged her creative interest as he was an artist in his own right. He was an oil painter and a commercial artist for a time.

Anita was always interested and inspired by nature. She wanted to be a naturalist and went to college and took classes in biology and forestry. As she worked towards her PHD in Botany, she did an occasional drawing here and there. She said she worked her way into scientific botanical illustration. She often did drawings for her fellow students dissertations and her professors’ illustrations.


Her first job out of college was at the New York Botanical Museum. She eventually landed at the Bell Museum where she oversaw the plant collection and worked in the outreach program.

I asked Anita how the last year has been for her working with her mentor, Cheryl Barr. Anita was working with watercolor painting as her medium. She said she had learned and improved a lot. She feels she has really improved on her underpainting with washes and on capturing luminosity in her paintings. She did discover that she really doesn’t enjoy painting outdoors. She is a studio artist and is happy to know that. She feels quite satisfied with the work she has


Anita is greatly inspired by nature, and it shows in her watercolor paintings. She is inspired by the artist, Claude Monet. She likes that he captures the impressions of what he sees but not all the details. She also enjoys the artist of the Hudson River School. Moving forward in the future, Anita told me she wanted to concentrate on paintings with less details and maybe a bit more abstract. She said “ I want to do more of the impression of what I see.”

“Tranquility Winter”
“Getting the layers and the subtleties in this painting really surprised me” Anita said about her painting “Tranquility Winter”

Anita says she would definitely recommend our mentorship program to others. What she liked most was more so than taking a class, the mentorship program pushed her toward her goals that she really wanted to achieve. She enjoyed the individual one-on-one time with her mentor.

I asked Anita how she felt about her upcoming gallery show she will be having along with her mentor, Cheryl Barr. She told me “I think it’s going to be great!! It will be fun to see my stuff on a gallery wall.” Their art show will be in the Rumriver Art Gallery from Saturday, June 19 – Friday, July 10. There will be an opening on Saturday, June 19 from 2pm-4pm.

I enjoyed getting to know Anita better and seeing her amazing paintings. I hope you will all come by and check out her artwork in the gallery starting June 19. Anita and Cheryl are also teaching a free watercolor workshop on Saturday, June 26 from 10am-12pm.

“Tranquility Summer”

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