Featured Artist


Betty Grisham

Betty Grisham
Sample Work

I was born and raised in small towns in Missouri but have lived most of my adult life in northernVirginia. I graduated with a B.S. in Art Education from Missouri State University and studied painting at The Art League in Alexandria, Virginia. My work primarily consists of realistic oil paintings on canvas. I also work in pastels, colored pencil, pen and ink, graphite and gouache on paper. My work can be seen in Studio 17 at the Torpedo Factory Art Center and on various websites but due toCovid-19 for now my working studio is in my home.

I primarily work in oils, often using my own photographs as references but I also set up still life arrangements and work directly from those. I begin my paintings differently depending upon the subject but I often begin with an underpainting. I coat the white canvas with a thin neutral grayed layer, do a line drawing in Sepia, and while the background is wet, "lift off" the paint using Gamsoland brushes to expose the white priming below to create shades of light and dark areas. After that dries I gradually build up the color and enjoy using glazes. When working with colored pencils and pastels I do not use a neutral background but work directly on the paper, keeping in mind that it is difficult to go lighter with colors and more workable to gradually go darker. I enjoy using a crosshatching type technique to create an impressionistic type of presentation where individual colors come through. Drawing is my first love and I find it very natural and relaxing to me. I prefer using soft graphite pencils and exaggerate light and darks. I also enjoy doing pen and ink drawings using crosshatching in areas to create the lights and darks and concentrating on contours. I consider commissions, often working with clients using their personal snapshots as references with the understanding that I maintain my ‘artist’s license’ to interpret them in my own way. I use what they offer to create a work of art that is unique, personal, and meaningful for them while at the same time creating something that is challenging and satisfying for me.

Variety is the spice of life for me, not only in my choices of media, but in my choices of subject matter. Those choices consist of still life, landscape, pet portraits, florals, and figures. I often use glassware and reflections as subject matter in an attempt to create a fluid, landscape-like abstraction within realism. In some pieces my work crosses the line beyond realism into almost totally non-objective art, but all of my work is rooted in my love of drawing and observing what is around me. I believe that there is wonder and beauty all around us if we can just pause long enough to ‘mindfully see’ — not just ‘look’. Even when I am not actively drawing and painting, I am absorbing the visual miracles surrounding me. I love to examine what happens as light falls upon objects and atmospheres, creating shadows, bending, showing through transparent or translucent objects, revealing a variety of textures, and evoking emotional responses. First, seeing and then capturing what I have observed, perhaps exaggerating it slightly, and, therefore, hopefully lifting it up for others to share, is my way of celebrating what is good about Life. It is also one of my ways of coping when life is difficult to understand and accept. I hope that my art creates warmth and excitement for others, enriching their lives a bit. I hope it helps others also ‘see’ ordinary objects around them with new appreciation and experience the moment a little more fully.

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