My work is about connections that human beings make or don’t make through language, a gesture, a look, an expression, physical placement, cultural values, standards, emotions, and desires. Exploring how we communicate, accept, constrain, or reject these connections to form relationships is an evident theme throughout my work. My art centers around the human figure, as it is often the vehicle which relays the connection. Portraits are a predominant part of my work as I am fascinated and challenged by the changes age, experience, the environment, lighting, background, and just a slight muscle movement can make. My bodies of work are categorized similarly to how I live my life: processes, portraits, and conceptual pieces, or experiences, relationships and connections to others, and my inner, more consuming ideas and reflections on how moral and spiritual gauges are created within social, historical, and instinctual contexts.
It is important for me to include the processes, because this is where much of the gut of art is experienced. Since a young child, I have loved to dip my hands into the clay slip, spread the paint onto the paper, experience new mediums, and peacefully or zestfully organize my thoughts. The processes are one of the greatest joys of living. These contain my studies, which include commemorating family history, recording slices of time, life drawing, alla prima painting, photography, exploring and combining mediums through layering, drying times, movement speeds, and changing temperatures, as well as improving and exploring observational skills, techniques, and the principles and elements of design. Most of my work is done from life, and students have remarked how refreshing it is to have an instructor that actually loves to draw. Often people will ask if I am a painter, but I do not limit my work to a medium. Perhaps I may paint for a particular piece, but I might sculpt, act, draw, or use photography on the next. My ideas come first, and then I choose the medium to use. The studies are about the process of creating. It is exciting when I engage another with my work, but it is not the primary goal. This work is a personal exploration and provides opportunity to combine physical, social, emotional, and spiritual elements to possibly create an energetic, strong, and original piece of art.
It is inconceivable to me to draw a wrench, a stereo, or a boat a thousand times, but to continuously draw the body and thread my work through aspects of our humanness is the stairwell of my exploration process. Drawing or painting people isn’t just about getting a likeness. Generations have been depicted for thousands of years, and yet when we see certain portraits, no matter how old, we make a connection. This interests me and begs the question, “Why?” The answer isn’t simple. In some cases, there is an obvious icon, such as “Madonna and Child,” where we connect due to religious beliefs or a sense of family. We may be able to project ourselves into a portrait due to fantasy, envy, or a need for power through material items or great beauty. Perhaps the portrait evokes great emotion and we connect because we empathize with the subject in the work, or we relive an innocence that is no longer available to us. Every emotion creates a change in the face. For every line going one direction we should look for a polarizing line. We study form, the features, expressions, emotions, and cultures, but a portrait isn’t formulaic or simply a good painting. Somewhere there is a story that begs to be told; the dew shining on the webs that connect us.
The conceptual pieces evolved from a need to create more personal and meaningful pieces. I needed to put more of myself on the line in my work. I was asking my students to create socially engaging pieces. I was involved in meaningful dialogue and sharing heartfelt opinions and beliefs, but my artwork was evolving into “portraiture.” Who said artwork should be interesting and beautiful? Probably my mother among the multitude, but I had moved from a daughter needing to please her parents and the community, and evolved into an artist with a visual arena for engaging an audience. At times my work may be a commentary exploring relationships or social responsibility. Other times I attempt to bring social subtleties into a full light, so that they may honestly be explored. It is important to consider social mores and to understand that we create these mores. We are not duty-bound to accept what is socially acceptable, or what is considered a social grace or a blunder. Our sense of the whole, as a human race, should be more important than a stylish or timely social rule, specifically if these rules are simply implored to raise one group and lower another. Many times, the rule isn’t evident, it is a pattern of several social subtleties that many of us have been raised to believe are essential in the structure of our human race. I don’t expect everyone to care for my work or agree with my opinion, but if my work opens dialogue and helps others to form and articulate their opinions; then I have been successful in creating a relationship with the viewer.
Cindy Betzer Cindy Pharis Cindy Betzer Pharis Portrait C Betzer C. Betzer Figure Painting