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Interview with artist Betsy Walton: In between dreams and reality

There’s something deeply familiar yet foreign to Betsy’s art that we just can’t get enough of. She designed one of our fabulous tees called, “Feathers.” And she speaks to us some more about her work and a certain “friend” that’d we’d love to meet one day.

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Hi Betsy! How are you? You’ve done some wallets and a shirt with us before. So glad to be working with you again.

Hi! I am pretty good, getting over a cold at the moment. I am excited for the new Poketo products. Its always a pleasure to work with you. I love Poketo!!

So how did you start doing art? Was it something that you always knew you’d be doing?

Art was always my favorite activity, so I guess it was a natural evolution starting in childhood. I started getting more serious about it in high school, then I went to art college. After I graduated from school, I worked for a few years before taking the leap to be a full time artist. 

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Your work evokes something like a lucid dream to me. It feels dreamy, but not uncontrolled. There’s something very conscious about your images. Can you go into detail about that?

My process is to try to be very open to whatever ideas come up in the moment when I am working on a painting.  It is a curious process, because I have to balance being open and experimental with choosing what will add to the overall success of the piece, sometimes I feel like I go too far one way or the other. It is a constant tension between adding and taking away.  

Part of the flow of working for me is getting really focused on each mark and layer in the painting, and think perhaps that is where the conscious quality comes in. Somehow during that process, if it is a good painting day, I can open a door to a visual stream of thoughts, and I try to work with that to make interesting images. 

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Are you inspired by dreams?

I am inspired by the imagery and language of dreams, it is like a natural visual language we all share, but it is still very mysterious and surprising. Dreaming couldn’t be a more intimate and personal experience, yet it often feels strange, unfamiliar and confusing. I try to tap into that paradox when I am making paintings. 

Nature is almost always involved in your work. Why?

Nature is beautiful and evocative. I like using nature because it is rife with symbolic opportunity and it is something we all have experience with. Plus natural elements are fun to draw, and there is an infinite variety of them. 

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The tee shirt design you did for us is simple and beautiful. What was your inspiration behind the design?

I like feathers! I made this one day when I was playing around with the idea of hand drawn patterns. I hoped to suggest that they are floating along in the air. 

Almost all of the characters in your art wear hooded jumpsuits. Have you ever made anything similar to that in real life?

I haven’t made a jumpsuit, but I do have a life size paper sculpture of a character that I am showing in my next show at Together Gallery.  Its not quite ready for pictures, but I am excited to show it around when it is done. I call it my “friend” and sometimes I hold its hand—ha ha. 

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What’s a day in the life of Betsy Walton?

I work from my home studio. I wake up around 5 am to the cat alarm. One of our cats is very set in his ways, he insists on going outside at 5, and we indulge him. Then I go back to bed for a couple hours. After breakfast, I drift into the studio and check email, get lost in the computer for a while, and then roll over to my drawing desk to start painting if I am lucky. I usually have one or two days a week that are spent shipping, emailing, and organizing things. I break for lunch. I try to get some exercise and fresh air in the middle of the day if possible. Depending on my work load, I usually wrap up my work day around 6 or 7.  I try to reserve my evenings for spending time with my husband and/or friends, etc, but I usually end up working late one or two evenings a week. 

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Do you have any rituals you do before shows, or before you start a piece that others might think is odd?

I think I am pretty boring in these areas. I like to queue up lots of listening material before I work and make a cup of tea. Depending on the stage of a project, I like to organize my desk a little before I get started. It usually ends up a mess by the end of the day.  I do like to make sure my feet are comfortable, maybe that is odd — l only like to wear sneakers or slippers while I am painting. 

How do you know when a piece is finished?

I usually stop when I don’t see anything that I want to add or change. Or, I realize I have taken the idea of the piece as far as I want to go with it, and its time to move on to something new. I try to do the best I can to finish each piece, but sometimes they end up in the unresolved drawer. I look back at these pieces sometimes to pick up little ideas I can re-use. 

Thanks for your time Betsy!

My pleasure, thanks for your interest in my work! 

For more info and works by Besty, please visit www.morningcraft.com

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