Saturday, November 22, 2008

An Interview With Michigan Artist, Beth Scully

I'm so excited to finally start sharing my Livingstone Studio artist interviews with you all! The first is with Beth Scully, a wonderful Michigan artist who works in oils. I feel so blessed to have so many talented and interesting artists sharing the small galleries with me each summer on Beaver Island, and on the website I manage from Illinois the rest of the year. When people see Beth's work the most common response is, "Wow, she 'has' it, doesn't she?!" People know when they are viewing something created from the heart...they connect with it in a special way. It's something deeper than technical proficiency she posesses. I always wish the artist could be present when I hear the praise or sell a's magical, even after all these years. We now have "Meet the Artist" one weekend day every summer, just for that reason. It's my pleasure to introduce you to Beth..talented oil painter, nature lover, avid reader and all around wonderful person..ask anyone who knows her!

1. How did you get started in the medium of oil painting, and what inspired you to pursue it?

I have always loved the depth and richness of oils ... they have the ability to change with the light as the day goes by, thereby giving the illusion of living phenomena. While teaching high school (English), however, I believed that I didn't have the time needed to use oil as a medium. So for 35 years, as a weekend avocation, I painted with watercolors and pastels. As soon as I retired (3 years ago), I began to experiment with oils and just love them...This is a medium I can spend a lifetime learning about ...and I really enjoy the challenge.

2. What draws you to a particular place or subject matter?

Because I have spent my life next to lake Michigan, I am drawn deeply to the magnificent beauty of the water and its sandy/forested surroundings.... in every season. I am at home...I experience that 'sense of place' that offers a feeling of belonging ...involving memory emotion and all the senses.

3. When you find your "place" what do you do first? What is your process?

I paint in a small second-floor studio overlooking the dunes, so one of the places I love is right before me. If I want to experience a roaring lake in November, I'll begin to sketch a combination of waves and clouds...then experiment with wild lake colors to try to 'be there' ... then I'll paint a smaller study for composition ... which will influence the final piece.

4. What goes through your mind in terms of composition and lighting, and how do you know when it's just right?

I must be able to say, "Yes, I have been there", again all the senses are re-energized in the memory. I do experience that 'final' brush stroke inner knowledge..that one more attempt will simply be superfluous or worse...will make the painting too 'heavy.'

5. What advice would you give to a new artist interested in pursuing oil painting or landscape/nature painting?

If you are 'called' to do art, get moving! Don't depend on or look for 'the right mood' ... You will unconsciously slip into your work as you put your energy to it. ... LOVE your subject matter. Be passionate about your message. The energizing forces behind my work include the joy and peace that such natural beauty gives, anger about the prospective loss of the health of this ecosystem, and frustration that more isn't being accomplished to save it. If I didn't suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, I'm sure you'd find me at the bow of the Greenpeace Whale boats ... as it is, I'm hoping that my work reminds people of the fragility of our earth and the responsibility to preserve its well being.

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