In the Studio with Betzi Stein
By Kristine Schomaker
What does a day in your art practice look like?
There is no typical day. As I deal with chronic fatigue, it totally depends on how I am feeling physically and the amount of energy available to me. Ideally, since I have the most energy in the morning, I go into my studio after breakfast and paint for a few hours. Middle of the day is a wash energy wise. Often, I get a second wind and am able to paint at night before bed.
What is your medium of choice? Why?
I paint in acrylic on canvas or panel. Before converting the bedroom of my condo into my studio, I used to make my art in a corner of the room, which was fine when I worked in colored pencil and ink. But when I started to paint, I knew I wouldn’t be able to tolerate the fumes and toxicity of oils so I chose to use acrylic. Over time, I have learned to love the challenge of making this medium work for me, even in the summer when the heat dries the paint almost before it hits the canvas!
Why is art important to you?
Art gives me PURPOSE, especially at this point in my life at age 74. As a younger person, I lived a wild and crazy life — it was the 60’s after all—moving away from home to Berkeley, followed by 2 years in Europe on my own, I was finally able to experience the freedom to live and explore life as I chose to live it without my parents hovering over me — Ultimately, after my divorce and needing to make a living, I became a massage therapist and my focus shifted away from making art. But I do realize that sculpting live bodies rather than the clay I used in college, kept me tuned in to the creative side of myself. However, I used to wish sometimes that I had the drive that many artists seemed to have but there were other things that motivated me then and I accept that. Now, I realize, I’m attempting to make up for lost time and feel a focused passion to create my art and participate as best I can.
What influences your work?
I always say that people are my muse. I get an immediate “hit” when I see someone whose energy or appearance just feels extraordinary, makes me laugh, touches my heart or pisses me off. If I’m lucky enough to get a candid photo, I know that I’ll need to paint that person eventually.
It’s impossible not to be affected by the troubled times in which we live, however, I choose to create art that makes me smile rather than brings me to tears, but who knows, one day I may be moved to express my outrage and compassion in a visual way through my art. I surprise myself often!
What is the most challenging part about being an artist.
I am the most resistant to keeping up with the administrative tasks of being an artist. Here’s a partial list of my backlog: updating my website, writing and sending out regular newsletters, entering shows, applying to residencies, keeping track of my art, getting organized!!! I also know I would be better served by spending more time connecting with other artists regularly on social media and in person, and getting out to more galleries and networking, but I have a tendency to isolate, so that is an ongoing challenge. Bottom line, the hardest thing for me to be consistent about is believing in myself and my abilities.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I tried to advise my younger self, I’d end up feeling remorseful. I’d much rather focus on the present, but I’d probably tell myself to keep making art regardless of the circumstances of my life.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work.
I wake up and attempt to banish the demons. Then I get to work.
What’s next for you in the future.
I’ll be having my first solo show (ever!) at TAG Gallery in November 2020. I’m excited about becoming a member of TAG because I’ll be learning about and participating in the running of the gallery. I’ll also be participating in regular group shows at TAG.
I’m also thrilled that “Lustful Daydreaming”, my painting of Kristine Schomaker for her Perceive Me project, just showed at Cal State LA and will be traveling to at least six different venues in California!
I am currently in a show at TAG Gallery titled “Post Modern Reactions” through March 14th. In January 2021, I’ll be participating in the Women Painters West 100th Year Celebration at the Brand Library.
Trying to make the most of my time left on the planet.