The natural world, literature, and folktales are inspirations for my artworks.
My designs, media & materials are often storytelling in design, creating picture poems.
As a professional artist, I’ve had the pleasure of bringing colorful animal portrait paintings to nature and animal lovers.
My St. Francis with Friends series glass paintings are especially distinct, colorful and separate from the realistic portraits I create.
This fanciful series is based on St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals and nature) that have evolved into whimsical, detailed paintings of St. Francis under a starry sky, usually with pets, in different locations. The tone of the St. Francis paintings are meant to be light and happy. With the glass paintings, anywhere from 5 - 8 translucent layers of paint are added, creating depth.
I love working with glass. It adds a wonderful depth to the paintings and mosaics, with rich jewel-toned colors. Studio time is my Zen time to create interpretations of what I love most, animals and the natural world.
Sometimes, the glass painting is combined with the mosaics, as in the four permanent public art mosaic mural installations at the Tucson International Airport. These murals at the baggage level waiting areas are filled with local flora, fauna, gems and even fossils from the Tucson gem show.
The mosaic murals are fun to examine, touch and even read. The east end baggage area has an engaging Tohono O’ Odham folktale in English and Spanish.
Going on nature walks to observe the seasonal changes in the desert is always a rejuvenating and learning opportunity. With my binoculars and sketch pad, notes are journaled for visual and emotional responses to what I am experiencing. The resulting artworks are personal responses to what I see, hear, and feel.
When did I know I would be an artist? All of my life. It runs in the family, with my famous artist uncle in J.L. Betanzos in Mexico who once saw my kid drawings and told my parents I had potential. Growing up in California, horses, and dogs were my loves. Riding and working with horses, always drawing them, always having dogs gave me a lot of first-hand practice. I learned how to draw them from memory because I have touched and felt the shape of them. Experiencing something by involving more of the senses.
When I wanted to experience and see the world, I decided to serve my country and joined the Air Force. The traveling during those years was a kaleidoscope of people, places, beautiful natural parks, and art adventures! Even then, I had a small stained glass side hustle and pet portrait business.
Since then I have worked on many animal/nature themed projects including public art atSan Diego, San Diego Zoo with Starbucks Coffee, public art at Tucson International Airport, Pima County Library, Tucson Botanical Gardens, and Tucson public school art residencies.
There has not been a time when I was not creating. When my dominant right wrist was broken last year, I learned how to draw and paint with my left hand.
Subjects in my paintings are mostly from personal observation and photo references. In my yard twice a year night blooming cactus thrive, gifting me with their beauty and scent. Bats visit my neighborhood park on summer evenings and hummingbirds, verdin, cardinals, Gila Monsters, deer, coyote and more are part of my nature walks.
Currently, there is a solo show of my artwork, Reflections of Nature, at Agua Caliente Park Ranch House Gallery January 12 - February 13. This sweet natural oasis is the perfect place to observe both nature and fine art. A variety of media of my work will be available there. Please contact me through my website: www.SueBetanzos.com for purchases.
If anything describes me, it’s that I’m an explorer. I create visual art in several mediums and I problem-solve with my pencil and keystrokes. I’m interested in how things are made…from glass painting to canvas, to public art in mosaics. I’m passionate about new ideas, projects, and challenges. Among to master them while enjoying the process.
While my professional work is animal portraits, my personal work springs from the same place… my heart.