In U.S., art opportunities draw a senior’s passion


Photo courtesy Anna Bedtratenko.

After moving to the U.S. from Ukraine, senior Anna Bedratenko discovered a passion for art. Ukrainian art classes didn’t allow for much creativity, she said.

By Afsoon Movahed

When senior Anna Bedratenko lived in Ukraine, she didn’t have much time for creativity. She had always liked drawing and painting, but the Ukrainian art curriculum in her school taught art as a skill rather than an outlet for imagination, she said. So, when she moved to the United States her freshman year, she was excited to take a studio art class for the first time. 

“In Ukraine, art class is limited and boring,” Bedratenko said. “They ask you if you can draw something like a sun, and if you can, then congrats, you’re done. That’s all there was to it. But here, there’s so much more to do. After a while, I realized that art is a great way of expressing yourself. I fell in love with it.”

Photo courtesy Anna Bedtratenko.

When Bedratenko displayed her pieces in Festival of the Arts at the end of her freshman year, she thought no one would buy her paintings. But her mom, Oxsana, begged Bedratenko to sell a few of the paintings she kept behind her bed frame, Bedratenko said. Bedratenko agreed, and to her surprise, many viewers were interested in her art. That year, she sold four paintings, and she’s sold pieces every year since.

“There’s this one woman who always buys my art at every Festival of the Arts show,” Bedratenko said. “I don’t know her, but her daughter goes to Whitman. One time, her daughter texted me saying, ‘Oh my gosh. My mom has your artwork up in our living room!’ I always loved knowing that. It was too cool.” 

In total, Bedratenko has sold 10 paintings and created 31 in the past four years. She’s already taken all of the Studio Art classes offered at Whitman; to keep up with her art, Bedratenko now paints and draws outside of school, sometimes sells her work and is still featured in Festival of the Arts.

In her free time, Bedratenko often draws in her sketchbook. She only uses black pens because after years of trial and error, it became her preferred tool — she frequently goes through an entire pen’s worth of ink for one piece and spends anywhere from one hour to several days on a single drawing. Bedratenko’s art style is particularly skillful, Studio Art teacher Robert Burgess said.

Photo courtesy Anna Bedratenko.

“I think she’s an incredibly talented representational painter, be it landscape, still life or figure,” he said. 

Though Bedratenko doesn’t plan on majoring in art in college — she has a passion for economics — she’ll continue painting and drawing in her free time, she said. She credits the U.S. school system for furthering her interests in creative art.

“I think it’s a skill I can develop more,” she said. “ I just enjoy it that much.”

Oksana is supportive of Bedtratenko’s artistic interests and has seen how art and creativity have positively impacted Bedratenko

“I’m so proud of Anna,” Oksana said. “She definitely has the spark and the drive for art. What she ends up doing is entirely up to her. I love that she paints and would only encourage her if she decided to make art her future. All I ask is that she cleans up her supplies a bit more!”