Artist Spotlight: Beth Orr

The Crisfield Arts & Entertainment District Project would like to invite you to join us in celebrating featured artist Bette Orr, who generously provided this interview. Following are insights into Bette and her work, provided in her own words.

“What I most like about the Crisfield Arts & Entertainment District (CAED) is that it’s all about community……community participation, and the community coming together, working together.  I also like that CAED offers countless venues and projects to the entire community.  Being an artist, my personal favorite is the Corbin Artists Co-op & Gallery.  When I moved here 15 years ago, I had hoped there would be an artists’ co-op, but at that time none existed in Crisfield.  It was a long-time dream come true when Crisfield officially became an Arts & Entertainment District, and as a result, the former historical Corbin Library was magically transformed into a beautiful artist co-op studio and gallery.  

I’m a native Marylander and grew up in rural Montgomery County.  I lived in the Annapolis area during my adult years, except for twelve years my husband and I lived in WV before moving to Crisfield to be closer to family.  We moved to Crisfield because we both enjoy rural coastal living and was drawn to this friendly little quaint town that ends at the water’s edge.

I worked as a paralegal in the Annapolis area and after retiring, pursued gardening and became a certified Master Gardener.  With art in my blood, it has always played a large part in my life.  I designed and made clothing, quilts, semi-precious jewelry, and lots of drawing and painting.  Eventually, when a spinal condition caused me to give up most all gardening, I turned to art wholeheartedly and completely fell in love with the watercolor medium.  It was the most fascinating of all the mediums to me, and it was then that I decided what I really wanted to do.  

There was never any particular starting point for my art.  I was born with art in my blood!  Both my parents were very creative, and my mother was a professional artist and teacher.  I grew up in the country on a small farm, free to roam the fields and woods, so loving nature comes natural to me.

I do not have an art degree and have never had formal art training.  I am so drawn to the watercolor medium because of its mesmerizing and magical qualities.  I spent several years experimenting with watercolor.  I studied color theory, learned everything I could about the individual pigment qualities, experimented with paint versus water ratios, spent hours upon hours practicing watercolor techniques and developing my own techniques, learned how the pigments interacted and reacted to one another…..for example, some pigments will happily blend together, while others are pushy, pushing other pigments away from them.  Eventually my work started selling.  It has been an art journey of more than 20 years…..and so it continues!  My paintings have found homes all across the US, Canada, England and Australia.

My watercolor art is a contemporary style that exploits color.   My subjects are varied and mainly derived from nature to include flowers, animals, landscapes, and coastal scenes.  They vary from nearly abstract to realistic.

I seldom use a pencil to pre-draw before painting, but rather use a direct approach of applying paint directly to the paper.  This method allows for a looser and freer style of painting without harsh constraints.  I paint intuitively, meaning…..I know what I want to paint before beginning, and sometimes not….but I simply allow whatever is happening with the paint, and my creative spirit, to guide me.   I never know for sure how a painting will turn out, and sometimes it’s a huge surprise, but that’s what makes watercolor so much fun and intriguing!  Watercolor is unlike any other medium….it is the only medium that will flow freely in water to fuse and mingle with other colors to create the most gorgeous results.  Yes, I’m truly addicted to watercolor!”

Bette participated in the 2019 and 2020 ‘Have a Seat in Crisfield’ Fundraiser which can be viewed at CharityAuctin.bid/HaveaSeatinCrisfield2020, is a Board Member of Somerset County Arts Council (socoarts.org) and Charter Member of CAED.  To become a member or learn more about the Crisfield Arts & Entertainment District Project, check out CrisfieldArts.org

Her work can be seen at Corbin Artists Co-op & Gallery (corbinartgallery.com) and her website at betteorr.com where you can also find information about her online watercolor classes.

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