I was first introduced to artist Susie Bettenhausen via The Pink Pagoda Blog. Jennifer, of The Pink Pagoda, was hosting an Instagram giveaway of one of Susie's Paintings and miraculously I was the lucky winner. I now am a happy collector of Susie's work and have enjoyed watching it evolve via her Instagram feed. I hope you enjoy her soft, soothing, feminine work as much a I do.
How long have you been painting professionally?
I started drawing and illustrating immediately after college and although my style has naturally evolved over the years I love to circle back and revisit where I started style wise. Shortly after graduation I worked for an Architecture and Interiors firm in Fort Worth, Texas. I didn’t realize it at the time but it was there that a style emerged that would simply grow from that time on. I have always had art related businesses on the side but never focused on it as a career. When my kids were getting to the age of entering school full-time, I made the transition to larger fine art pieces and slowly began selling my work.
What do you think you are most known for?
Well this is a hard one for me and I always wonder if it is for other artists as well. I think first and foremost, my color. Dark colors, blacks and reds rarely make an appearance in my pieces and if they do, it’s minimal. Blues, greens and peaches are dominant. I think there is a certain calm within chaos that seems to come through in my current work.
What is the scariest part about having your own business?
As an artist, it all comes down to me and my creativity. It’s not a task related career so I have to be conscious not to squelch my creativity through doubt, fear, etc. My ability to create is what I sell.
What is the best part about having your own business?
Hands down, the flexibility and not being boxed in by someone telling me what to do. I work best on my own and too many guidelines and fences can shut me down. Having the ability to spend time with my boys when I want is truly priceless.
Do you have any really large/interesting jobs you are working on currently?
I have a couple of upcoming collaborations that I’m working on. I’m trying new things and I like where they’re headed (and that’s NOT always the case) :)
I recently finished a commission at the beginning of summer that I keep thinking about. It’s been a catalyst to some of this new work. It was a large abstract seascape that hangs steps from the ocean. I haven’t gotten to see it framed and installed yet in its new home on Jupiter Island so it’s lingering in my mind.
Who are your favorite artists?
I am most drawn to the Abstract Expressionists - all for different reasons. I love the large scale bold simplicity of Kline and Motherwell. Agnes Martin’s orderly linear patterns are calming and mesmerizing! The graphic patterns of Hans Hofmann speak to my sense of structure and color while the fluid works of Frankenthaler speak to my love of loose detail. I relate well to the colors of De Kooning and then there’s my all time favorite, Mr. Twombly! His complete freedom and emphasis on experience over outcome is near and dear to me.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope still painting and still being inspired by the places I love. My boys will be heading off to college so it will be a new life phase for my husband and I. I’ll probably paint a lot to fight off empty nest syndrome! I hope to have watched enough web videos by that point to have upped my photography skills! I really like photography and it’s one of the things I would love to explore more one day.
What is your favorite color?
If I had to choose one I would say blue. I use watery blues and greens time and time again as a jumping off point for my favorite accent combos of sandy peaches and corals.
What inspires you creatively?
Anything and everything but especially my environment. I have always been drawn to the wide open spaces of the beach or the vastness of a place like Texas. Usually simple color combos and compositions inspire me the most. My brain doesn’t process visual clutter well.
What are you working on for the rest of the year?
I have 2 new collections I am focusing on and I’m really just taking some time to grow and explore as an artist. There are SO many things I want to try up in the studio but I have to zero in on a few in order to be productive. I am keeping commissions at a bare minimum in order to make this happen.
What is your favorite music to enjoy while painting?
That’s all over the board (just like me). I often times paint in silence if I need to focus. When I do have music on, it’s likely to be some Texas country.
What is your favorite Quote?
I have entire journals of my favorites but there are two that have been on my mind lately.
“If I fear I do not trust. If I trust I do not fear.” -Anonymous based on Psalm 56:3
“I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied” - John Masefield
Thank you, Susie, for carving out time to answer my questions and for sharing insight into your process.