A Colorful Life 7

Bela Fidel Shares Her Vibrant Works With the World

For someone who has built such a successful following in the local art scene, it’s hard to believe that Bela Fidel originally didn’t plan on being an artist, having had dreams of becoming a writer before she discovered painting in oils.

“Early on in the sixties, on a whim, I started playing with oils and continued ‘playing’ for a couple of years until I decided to take formal classes. In Brazil, I studied diligently for five or more years while painting non-stop, never thinking that painting would become a lifelong passion,” she explains. “After 10 years of painting regularly, I realized that this was what I wanted to do, this was what I needed, and that this was an integral part of who I was. I have never looked back.”

In truth, Fidel has not had much time to look back.

“I’m always busy looking ahead, trying different mediums, aiming higher and higher, demanding more and more of myself. My curiosity seems to have no end and it cannot be lassoed in: it eggs me on and on, relentlessly.”

Born in Brazil, Fidel studied in Jerusalem and in the U.S. Her education and background are multifaceted: she has a B.A. in English and Spanish Languages and Literatures from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and also studied makeup artistry in Los Angeles. She’s worked as a translator in many languages, a secretary, a makeup artist, and is now a full-time artist and art teacher out of her studio in North Scottsdale.

“At the risk of using a cliché, my studio is my retreat, my sanctuary, my battlefield—depending on the day,” she says. “It is where I face my angels and demons, where I get to know myself. It is where I get hurt and where I heal; where I learn humility, patience, persistence, as well as despondency, despair and many other existential challenges. I believe, though, that it is this emotional rollercoaster that enables me to deepen my work, bring meaning to it and touch other people’s hearts.”

In recent years, Fidel has earned several accolades for her work, including Honorary Mentions from the Holocaust Museum and the West Valley Arts Council; a first prize in Mixed Media from the Arizona Art Alliance; and a third prize from the Arizona Art Alliance at an exhibit that took place at Vision Gallery last April.

Fidel is known best for her work with oils and mixed media. She also uses and teaches the encaustic technique, which involves using hot wax and a heat source with a variety of artistic mediums.

“My work with encaustic encompasses paintings, wall sculptures, monotypes on paper and fabric and, lately, as one of the elements in my mixed media practice,” she explains.

“I am planning to continue to develop my mixed media work by using larger panels, learning about different, additional materials that can be incorporated into the works, all while still making sure I remain true to my ‘Zen’ aesthetics,” Fidel says.

When asked about her advice to novice artists, she notes, “I can only mention that stubbornness, persistence, hard work [and] diligence are a few of the elements that have kept me going throughout the years. I must not forget, as well, that learning about myself through my practice has been invaluable in my continuing efforts toward becoming a better artist.”

To learn more, visit BelaFidel.com.