Portfolio: Plein-Air Painting | Betty Carr

On Location: Six artists hooked on painting outdoors

By Gussie Fauntleroy

Jackson Thermal Pool, oil, 16 x 20.

It’s clear how certain elements in Betty Carr’s life converged in her path as a painter: a lifelong passion for art and for the outdoors, a fascination with nature’s patterns, and years spent in a variety of landscapes—the California coast, the Rocky Mountains, and the desert Southwest. Other key components include gallery representation since the fourth grade and decades of teaching art.

What may not be immediately evident is how years of creating non-representational sculpture also affects her painting en plein air. “It taught me how to think dimensionally on a flat surface, and also how to observe the world in terms of cascading shadows and light traipsing along the edges of things,” reflects Carr, who switched to painting some years ago. “Instead of seeing the thing,” she adds, “you’re seeing the thing in light.”

Carr’s light-filled homebase these days is Cottonwood, near Sedona, AZ, where the artist lives with her husband, painter Howard Carr. Married for 35 years, the couple travels and paints throughout the West for three to four months each year in an RV specially equipped for painting. It’s all part of what Carr happily calls her “long life of art.”

Willow Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; Mountain Trails Gallery, Sedona, AZ, and Jackson, WY; Austin Galleries, Austin, TX; Judith Hale Gallery, Los Olivos, CA; Lee Youngman Galleries, Calistoga, CA; Button Gallery, Douglas, MI; www.bettycarrfineart.com

Featured in “On Location” portfolio in June 2010