Betsy Forster, California, Call, countryside, emotional expression, gesture, harmony, horizon, landscape, Montana landscapes, morning mists, nature, painting, pastel landscapes, pastels, response, supernatural presence, Texas, touchstone gallery, Virginia landscapes, window, Wyoming landscapes
Responding to the call of big skies and far horizons, Betsy Forster stuffs her back pack with art supplies and camera before heading into the countryside – Wyoming and Montana in the summertime and Virginia in the cooler months. Drawing and sketching with oils, she works diligently several days a week no matter what landscape lies before her. “I need the countryside,” she states emphatically, “I need a window that faces toward a distant horizon.”
Betsy was born in Madera, California where the sky seems like it goes on forever. The dry tawny grasses and clusters of dark green trees characteristic of southern California and the open spaces near Dallas, Texas became embedded in her psyche during her childhood.
Betsy’s mother and great grandmother were also serious painters. “My mother’s painting stuff was all over the house and wonderful art hung on every wall.” That environment plus maternal genes proved to be influences in her later life as an artist. Still, as a young woman, her goal was to study elementary education and she worked toward that end in college obtaining a degree in that field. Later on she went back to school where an art history course hit a hidden nerve. It literally changed the direction of Betsy’s life. She switched her major to art, eventually obtaining a Masters of Fine Art from American University. Ever the student, she continued her studies for nine years with William Christenberry in Washington DC.
Inspiration comes not only from wide open spaces, but also from romantic northern European early 19th century painters, especially Caspar David Friedrich who found a supernatural presence within nature and painted his emotional response to it. Betsy, likewise experiences “holy ground” as she draws and paints in the early morning mists or in the hush and warmth of late afternoon light. Nature calls her with its beauty and vast space. She responds by capturing what she can outdoors, then takes it inside the studio. There she lets loose with pastel chalks expressing with emotional gestural gusto–not only the features of land and sky, but the spiritual side of it all, directing our gaze toward what she sees and what the Native Americans before her saw: the metaphysical dimensions of each place, the transcendence, harmony, beauty, and lyricism of Nature.