What inspires me to paint the subjects that I choose in my artwork
Artistic, patient, loving
I am a realist oil painter, and I am finally at the point in my life where all my efforts are now focused on my artwork. I'm living on the Eastern Shore where I feel the inspiration to paint very strongly. Not to mention there is an endless number of wonderful things to paint and a beautiful place to be as well.
When was the first time you realized you were an artist?
I think it was at 4 when my father first put a paint brush in my hand. I helped him paint our front porch, and it was love at first sight. I thought I was born with some drawing tool in my hand. There was never a question. I always wanted to be an artist, and now I am finally really able to start marketing my work to galleries and the public.
Realism with a twist is what I would call my style. I am not simply trying to make the subjects look real but the twist is that I find the one main aspect that captured my attention and I play that up. I will manipulate the paint in any way I can to achieve the desired effect. I am trying to show the essence to the subject, the personality. Some paintings look like photographs and love it when people ask if they are.
I paint in oils mostly. For most of my life I have hated oil paint as for me, the details are the icing on the cake. It's my favorite part of painting. Typical oil paints frustrate me as the long drying time is annoying. More times I smeared my painting trying to get to the details before the paint dries. I'm too impatient to let them dry for weeks. I discovered water soluble oils and for the most part the faster drying time fits my need for instant gratification.
Technique and Process
I start with photographs. I take pictures everywhere. First I do my line drawing. Then I generally use a magenta under painting to establish rough values. I sometimes start with the darkest colors, but other times I try to work on the background first. It depends on my mood and what the subject is. I work all over the place. The finishing touches are usually the highlights or the most important details. When finished, I varnish with a satin finish water soluble varnish.
I have several series. Right now I am fascinated with water, glass, reflections and the play of light and shadow on transparent things. Love reflections on water.
Texture is another focus. I love the character of old buildings and am working on a series of them.
I am also doing paintings of vintage cars. I find interesting close-ups and paint those parts of the cars. Truly, I will paint whatever catches my attention or sparks my creativity.
Originally I was inspired by the painting by Norman Rockwell, Michelangelo, most of the Old Masters. Recently I have met and enjoyed the artwork of Jill Bashem, a local artist, and many others who are too numerous to mention. Mostly I knew the famous artists that I didn't like and yet are very well known highly collected artists. To me, I couldn't understand why people thought their artwork was any good. (Just my opinion) I don't like Picasso, except his early works, Matisse, too primitive to my eye, Jackson Pollack, anyone can throw paint at a canvas. Abstract art had never appealed to me.
What is your source for ideas?
When I see something that catches my eye, it becomes a future painting. I see things in ordinary subjects that others do not see.
I can be sitting in a restaurant and the ice in a glass of water catches the light in a certain way and I photo it. I'm often seen stopping on the side of the road snapping pics of an old barn, or a water view or some interesting trees. Everything I see is a potential painting.
Why do you make art?
It's what I love, and is as natural to me as breathing. It is a very joyous thing for me and I find that if life is too stressful, I cannot create. I just came out of what I call a desert period where I couldn't paint. But still did creative things like knitting. I can't just sit still and watch TV ..I have to be doing something at the same time.
How often do you create?
I am now on a schedule where I try to paint everyday for at least 2 hours. My goal is to try to paint a minimum of 30 paintings a year and optimally 50. At the same time I have been working on my promotional materials, website, artist statement, bio, resume, business cards, stationary and note cards. I've been attending seminars on how to market my art and the main thing I learned is that I have to learn to sell myself as well as the artwork.
What is the best artwork you ever painted?
It changes each time I complete a painting. But if I had to pick one I'd say it's my painting of two little outhouses , "Pretty Privies" completed within the last month. There's something magical about the scene that appeals to me. The colors, the texture and the composition. It all just worked.
What role does the artist play in the world?
Art can be very powerful. It can convey strong emotion or social commentary. The artistic mind is probably half the population. Not all will be painters, some musicians, architects, crafters, singers. How dull and uninspiring this world would be without artists. And how sad that the arts are the first thing that the schools are cutting.
Do you make money with your art?
One way or another I have always earned money painting. I did murals, faux finishing, and basically I would paint any surface that would hold paint. I have finally come to a point in my life where my time is my own, I'm no longer raising a family, and can focus on my art career. I am really still getting my portfolio together but have been doing a lot of networking. I have several galleries waiting for me to submit everything to them, and appear interested in showing my work. So I hope to be earning money shortly and am working feverishly towards that goal.
My Facebook page, though I haven't made any sales as yet as I don't list prices. But the feedback I'm getting is very helpful. The other is sites like this one. I am hoping that the exposure will be beneficial.
Please tell us about a favorite contemporary artist.
I happen to really like Nicola Simbari very much. He trained Behrens. I love his use of bright colors, and his heavy simplistic brush strokes convey the feeling of the details that I so slavishly like to paint.I am fortunate enough to own two of his originals and would like to attempt to paint in a similar fashion, however I do know that if I did achieve that effect, it may be less than satisfying to me as the "dessert" for me in is the fine details.
Please tell us something interesting from your life.
I was adopted when I was 3 days old to a wonderful family. For me, it is fascinating to see my traits passed on down first to my children, and now on to my grandchildren. Three of the four are very talented artists. they are 8, and 5 yr old twins. A cute story last week... the little ones wanted to sell their paintings like Grandma. They drew about 20 pictures and they wanted to sit on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach to sell them. They decided if they sold any of them they would give the money to poor people. We sat for an hour in the brutal sun and in that time they sold $6 worth of drawings. I gave it to the local soup kitchen. The bad news... if a cop had seen us doing this they not only would have stopped us, but I could have been arrested for not having a permit and for panhandling.
Did you ever feel like giving up creating?
No. Even if I just do it for myself, I have to create. I always did.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years as an artist?
I'd like to be showing in galleries but hope to have repeat customers and referrals. I'd like to think I could support myself on it, but at the very least I want to make a profit.
I don't expect to be shown in museums but if that happens, it's a bonus. I'd like not to have to market myself, I'd rather people solicit me. Not a spring chicken anymore, but still have a lot of life left in me.
Advice for Emerging Artists
Network, network, network. Research venues, and above all, keep on painting.
Betsy Frahm - What inspires me to paint the subjects that I choose in my artwork