This week, DBI dishes on the artist, Betty L. Beer and her work.
Q: So how long have you been painting?
Betty: I had my first show with the Brookings Arts Council in 2006 and I prepared for at least three years before that and then painting also. Around the year 2000 is when I started taking lessons.
Q: What made you decide to start up Faces of Brookings?
Betty: The idea actually came from another artist and I just sort of adopted her thought because I really liked it. It was that the people around you are really beautiful. If you paint the way that we do which is to only paint the face, it’s a way to democratize a portrait to make it accessible to people. It is also a way to build community because people see the scans and people know who they are or ask who they are. Another part of the idea is to get original art on people’s walls instead of copies.
Q: People are probably most familiar with the portrait work that you do. What else do you enjoy painting?
Betty: I feel like an artist should do everything. I’ve run across people who specialize in fish, but I think it’s a good idea to be able to draw everything and paint in every medium that you can. I work in pastel, charcoal and graphite. The only one I don’t really work in is acrylic. I like to work in watercolor. I do landscapes as well. After awhile, it really is just focusing on faces like in the Faces of Brookings project.
Q: Do you have people approach you looking to have their own portrait or a family portrait done?
Betty: Well I’m working on a double portrait right now and I have done that in the past. You can do a whole family. Then you’re not only painting the portrait of an individual, but the interactions between the members of the family. That’s interesting to me.
Q: What’s next for you? Do you have a new project?
Betty: What’s next is to finish the portraits for Faces of Brookings. I have about 50 done and I’d like to get to 100. Then I would like to do something with those images. I’m not sure exactly what yet, but I would like to combine them with information about Brookings. I want it to focus on community development and volunteerism within the community. Another activity I like is to play the harp. I like to perform and do that as well. You wouldn’t think it’s a difficult instrument to play but it is. I’ve been playing for about five years now. Playing the harp has an advantage and that is that even when make a mistake, people just love it! It still sounds like it was part of the chords. After I finish the Faces of Brookings I think I would like to start working with poetry. In the past, I have collaborated with poets and paintings. Mostly it’s been other people’s poetry, but I would like to see if I could develop my own writing.