December 8, 2010

SPOTLIGHT Moments!




Tell us a bit about yourself
(name, location, affiliations, and personal stuff).
My name is Betsy and I learned color theory, drawing, and painting at the ripe age of 50 from Janis Bryant, a wonderfully encouraging Fort Worth artist. I became obsessed right away and worked on my art almost every day for 5 years straight, all while maintaining a full-time job as the systems administrator for a law firm. My husband teaches high school German and we have two grown children, one of whom is a graphic artist and the other is police. I love to travel, especially to Germany with my husband, and throughout the U.S. I love nature, animals and being outdoors doing quiet things like watching birds or listening to the sound of a bubbling stream. I love to watch colors bounce and light dance.

What is the first thing you can remember making by hand?
The first thing I remember is making pink.
How and why did you make it?
At my elementary school in the 50s we were allowed to bring only certain crayons to school (but I didn’t know that). I brought a white crayon to Kindergarten so I could make pink, still my favorite color. I didn’t want to be different; I just wanted to color something pink. My boyfriend tattled on me and my white crayon was taken away. I wasn’t allowed to bring it to school again and I certainly didn’t let Peter be my boyfriend anymore! It was terrible that I felt like I was “in trouble” for making a color.

What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
I am inspired by nature, color, music, people (including other artists) and their thoughts or life experiences. Sometimes I get ideas from dreams and those are usually abstract paintings. Most of the time I get ideas from nature so I always carry a camera with me to capture the essential shape of a thing or scene. I sometimes carry an emergency sketch kit…a good pencil and an eraser.  When I don’t feel inspired I remember what my teacher told me…when I don’t have anything to paint, paint anything. 

What are your favorite materials?
Lascaux watercolors, acrylics and gouache, painting mediums and other supplies. They are non-toxic and environmentally safe and light-fast. They are manufactured in Switzerland and have been used by many great artists. I was lucky enough to purchase supplies in Germany and Switzerland on trips with my husband. My favorite paper is manufactured in Italy by Fabriano. My favorite brushes are Silver or Isaby. My favorite pencil was brought to me from Rome by a friend and I haven’t yet found one in the U.S. 

Any tips for selling handmade stuff?
I am essentially an introvert so I have to force myself to put myself out there in the public. I register for as many art shows (like the Arts Goggle) as I can accommodate with my schedule and I let people know that I’m showing. I try to make each “show” as attractive as possible. I usually bring food for my guests if it isn’t already provided.  I step up and introduce myself without trying to be forceful. A friend who owns a chain of jewelry stores let me hang my paintings in his shops for several years. That helped me tremendously with local name recognition. I’m new to online selling and still learning. 

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I spend a lot of time with my husband of 36 years and my 2 year old dog, Cricket, a beagle/Springer Spaniel mix that we rescued from Oklahoma. We love to take road trips just to look at scenery and get away from the big city where we live. Every weekend I try to take Cricket on epic walks along the river bank nearby.  It refreshes both of us! 


What handmade possession do you most cherish?
The Meissen bud vase that I purchased on our first trip to Germany. I love fine porcelain and that was the best souvenir I could think of. The hand-painted design is exquisite and it reminds me of the time that I fell in love with Germany.  It was a very special trip…it was our 25th wedding anniversary and we were showered with gifts everywhere we went. It was magical and miraculous and that vase evokes all of those special memories.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
I’m so new to Etsy that I’m still learning.
How do you promote your work?
I put out a guest book at every show and ask that people leave their name and email address so that I can let them know of future shows. I donate works for charity because I believe I have to give it away to keep it. I  use Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, and Linked-In to promote B. Horn Original Art and my ColorQueen blog and each links to the other where possible. I try to write on my blog at least every two weeks. I joined Etsy Fort Worth! I’ve used Etsy Showcases to drive traffic to my site. I teach what I know about art and color theory to whomever wants to know.

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
After deciding on what I want to paint, I usually make a line drawing. Then I make a values drawing, detailing the darks and lights. My third drawing is on the paper or canvas. If I am attempting to use true-to-life colors, I will make color studies from the original object or setting. I work with a pallette of 5 colors, plus black and white. I mix all of my own colors. Sometimes I paint very quickly; other times I need time to reflect between glazes. Every year in January I make a new color wheel and I have found that my color tendencies do vary somewhat from year to year. I don’t really have a style and I am not bound to the idea of finding one because that would be too limiting. An artist is by nature constantly creating, processing, growing and changing.

What first made you want to become an artist?
I didn’t want to become an artist. I just wanted to be me and do what I enjoy most, which is painting. I had tried many creative outlets, from needlework to sculpture, and as I aged, I found that arthritis limited my choices. When I was 14 a teacher told me I had no talent because she didn’t like a painting I had created so I never tried painting until I was in my late 20s. I did a few things and even sold them but we were too poor to afford supplies…we were buying baby shoes and paying rent instead! When my children grew up and moved out, I started dabbling again. My daughter encouraged me to get serious about it and take lessons. Finally I realized I could not do it on my own so I signed up with Janis Bryant who changed my life. In five years I learned everything I could from her and she said I was an artist so I guess that’s how I became one.  


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