Artist of the Month: Martha McAndrew

By Martha McAndrew

The picture is of Toby, my small seven-year-old bichon/maltese pet.  I was very fortunate to get him when he was five, because his first family could no longer care for him, and my 17-year old-poodle, McGee III, had just passed away.

I painted Toby a few months ago.  He’s pictured on my living room carpet and you may have spotted his toys in the picture.

When I retired in 2002, I filled my life with prayer, meditation, golf, and bowling. Then I decided to take a few one-hour watercolor art classes at the library. I really got hooked on art ,and as my 88-year-old bones began to reject golf and bowling, I searched for an art teacher.  

Al Ondush, a wonderful artist and great story teller agreed to give me private lessons. I studied with Al for eight years until he sadly passed away in 2019. At that time I was painting with a group near home that Joyce Harrington joined.  She invited me to join the art class at the Dunmore Senior Center where she belonged to a class of about 30 members. 

I took her up on her invitation even though I lived 10 miles from Dunmore, and I am so happy that I did because it is so much fun there.

Our great art teacher, Jill Swersie, is so helpful and positive. She is a wonderful teacher and a great artist, and she is a friend to all of us. About 25 members work in oils and there are five of us doing watercolors.

Until our class was interrupted by this terrible pandemic, we met on Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m. and we had a wonderful time. Members brought delicious treats every week and we really enjoyed seeing one another.  We had an annual Friday night art show with music and dancing and delicious teats.  

Our annual Monday afternoon Christmas party was very enjoyable, as we celebrated with a great sing-along featuring Ruth Boyles on guitar and Dee Noll on piano.  We also contributed money for presentation to a worthy charity each year. Our class recently reconvened on a small basis, but because of the pandemic I have not been there since last spring. I hope that everyone will be vaccinated soon so that our class can get back to normal.

Art has become a really big part of my life. I have one of my paintings printed for my annual Christmas card that I send out to 130 relatives and friends. I fashion other cards to use as birthday greetings, get well cards, and just friendly messages.  

I am so grateful that I joined the art class at the Dunmore Senior Center because I have made so many new friends there and I have also benefited from Jill’s great instruction.

 I have isolated myself because of the virus, and since I have no teacher, I decided to copy Saturday Evening Post covers of the fantastic artist, Norman Rockwell. This endeavor has provided me with hundreds of joyful hours, trying to learn from the master.

I’m almost a Dunmorean because I grew up in Scranton on the 900 block of Monroe Avenue, only five blocks from the Dunmore Senior Center.  In addition, my father was one of 10 siblings who were born and grew up at 152 E. Pine Street in Dunmore. My brother Jim and his wife Mary later lived in that family homestead, where they raised their six children. 

 I also arranged to have a Hometown Hero poster of my father, Eugene McAndrew, a World War I veteran, displayed at the Turkey Hill Market on Blakely Street for two years. Dunmore is a wonderful town!                              

Artist of the Month: Martha McAndrew

Artist of Month

Martha McAndrew is shown with a portrait she did of her father, Eugene McAndrew, who served in the U.S. Army during World War I.

Martha McAndrew of Clarks Green has been selected as the August Artist of the Month at Dunmore Activity Hub.

She  has been painting for 10 years and began studying art formally in 2011 with Al Ondush, who serves as an inspiration for her.

She began painting after she retired in 2002 as administrator of the Primary Health Center in Scranton at the age of 75.

Martha then served on the board of directors of the Center until she resigned this year at 85 years of age. She is extremely proud that the Center has provided 875,000 medical and dental services since it was begun 40 years ago, in 1978.

Her featured painting this month is a portrait of her father, Eugene McAndrew, who served in the U.S. Army during World War I. Martha chose to use a photo of her father taken in 1918 at an Army camp in Jacksonville, Fla., for the Hometown Heroes Project in Dunmore.

“Then I decided to paint the picture in order to honor my dad in my home,” she explains. Mr. McAndrew died in the year 2000 at the age of 94, having always loved the USA and its flag.

As in this painting, Martha finds a lot of her painting ideas “from life.”

“I paint a great variety of subjects–animals, landscapes, ultra modern buildings, Victorian mansions, anti-gun posters, Christmas, Easter and birthday cards, still lifes and cathedrals,” she says.

She finds the painting class at Dunmore Activity Hub “very relaxed and friendly.”

“Jill Swersie, our instructor, is very helpful and makes fine suggestions to each of us on her work. Her hints are very positive and helpful,” she notes

Martha points out, “There is something for everyone at the Hub. The variety of classes and activities is quite amazing. Allison Boga, the director, runs a very organized,–yet very friendly–‘ship’.”