Drawings from Real Life

This winter, I found myself intrigued by marks made from tires on our snowy, New Mexico roads. The bold, black lines appearing on the white field of the snow-covered roads that recorded movements, arcs, curves and wiggles excited me.

I photographed this unintentional mark making and brought the images into the studio. I then rephotographed some images behind water and drew from them onto canvas with paint.  I noticed how the marks come together and veer apart and become fainter and bolder in areas. I've drawn inspiration from the marks in fields in Italy made by plants before.  Here I loved the contrast between the black and white, too.

The Making of a Painting

I find myself observing the world around me and what fascinates me.  I try to put that in my work. Trying to push my envelope, I did a painting on paper, cut it up and collaged it back together.  Then, I photographed it and drew back on top of it on my iPad. I printed that image out in black and white.

Later, in my studio, I was drinking a large glass of water and put my glass in front of the image. I loved how it looked, watery, obscure, bolder.  So I photographed it behind water. Then I started a new painting from the new photograph.  I simplified my palette, too.  I am constantly trying to stay engaged with the natural process of my curiosity and fascination and surprise myself.

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My new body of work emerged after much drawing, experimentation and painting during the last two years. After years of painting inspired by plants and the Italian landscape, I find that my painting are again coming full circle to my love of paint as a material.

At the Philadelphia College of Art, I studied with Jane Piper,  a student of Arthur B. Carles, who was a Colorist painter and a student of Matisse. We would ride around the city on our bicycles, looking at the bark of trees as she pointed out their colors—rich purples, lime greens and multiple shades of rose. I would vividly mark my paper with colors in oil pastel, and tease out the tree.

Years later, in a wonderful class at the Santa Fe Art Institute, I was inspired by painter Elizabeth Murray's words, “Let the paint create the form. It's all you have.” Her use of paint and its qualities forever solidified in me a passion for paint as a material.

In the past two years, I've been experimenting with watercolor on paper and diving back into the physical qualities of paint and the celebration of color, line, form and layering, I am focusing on the paint itself combined with the physical energy involved in applying paint. I love the discoveries evolving from experimenting with paint application, water and new ways of mark making. With the new abstract paintings, my color palette has also evolved from purer colors to more muted and a narrower palette.

I continue to be inspired by the world of plants, color in my environment, weather patterns and the movement I see in nature.  My new paintings are emerging from a deep place of joy, gratitude for life and living amid the wonderful light and color of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Betsy Bauer, Santa Fe, NM   November 5, 2015

"LOOPHOLE" 14" x 11"  mixed media on canvas