Welcome Bienvenidos!


Mixed media colored pencil classes:
Coming Soon! Contact me for information.

* Individual and group tutoring is available too :) Contact me here or Facebook or my website SueBetanzos.com





Thursday, August 11, 2016

Linus, Dog Pencil Portrait

The Linus dog pencil portrait is part of a series of pet portraits and our connection to our pet companions.
That saying "pets enrich our lives" is an understatement. For many our companions are family members and our relationships with them are priceless.

*The impulse addition of my reading/working glasses was a visual pun that worked out, enhancing the original drawing.

Linus is a young Australian Shepherd that loves to be involved in every aspect of his family's life. Sometimes he can be relaxed enough to hang out with a good book!
His portrait was such a pleasure to draw and I thank the owners for loaning me the reference photo. The graphite drawing will be used for notecards and a personal newsletter.

Derwent and Faber Castell pencils were used on Stonehenge paper. I liked that the paper had just enough texture (tooth) to really do some nice layers. The thickness (weight) of the paper is great for pencils and even some light painting (not too wet).

Usually I like to start with the eye of the subject - it's the soul of the painting. Whiskers were added last with a very fine liner and gouache. Then I toned and refined the whiskers with a very sharp HB pencil.

Audio book I listened to: Downpour, by Kat Richardson. Urban Paranormal mystery. Pretty cool.

Linus Reading Glasses, 8"x11" pet portrait in pencil - original available 





The Eye - 



Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Colored Pencil Pomeranian Portrait

The colored pencil pet portrait of a Pomeranian is finished.
Materials used: Faber Castell colored polychromos pencils, Prismacolor colored pencils, Derwent water soluble sketch pencils,  water brushes, Strathmore 400 series 140 lb vellum mixed media paper.

The 140 lb weight of the Strathmore 400 paper takes water well with little buckling. I like a heavy paper that can be worked on with mixed media because it stays/drys flat when taped to a board.

The Pomeranian is done in Faber Castell polychromos colored pencils, which builds layers beautifully. Prismacolor colored pencil accents were added in FC colors I didn't have.

Background is in three layers of washes with the Derwent water pencils.
Derwent water soluble sketch pencils are like watercolor pencils; they can be activated with water for black, grey washes. Perfect for quick field sketching with water brushes. They have blue end caps and a little brush logo on the pencils.

I found water brushes good to use on the smooth Strathmore paper vellum surface.  It was easier to control the wet areas with a constant supply of water in the brush because with the vellum paper there is little to no open time.
Meaning once a wash of color is put down, it's hard to manipulate the paint, unlike watercolor paper where there is plenty of time to move paint in water. Liquid watercolors work well on this paper with their super saturated colors.

A little spattering with the darkest Derwent wash pencil added a subtle interest to the background.
I love senior dogs!

Colored Pencil Pomeranian, 7" x 7" SueBetanzos.com  available.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pomeranian Pet Portrait Colored Pencil

Colored Pencil portrait of a Pomeranian cutie senior dog Nitro.  In progress and there will be better photos soon!
What I love is the huge personalities in these little fluffy dogs.

Monday, June 27, 2016

K9 Gallery, Dog Portraits

Happy Monday! A few dog friends I had the pleasure of portrait painting (Harley, Bonnie, Maya, Riley, Kita, Risa, Bella, Macy/Chet, Anabell) . It's always fun to meet beautiful dog souls. I'll be playing with some sketches and ideas in different breeds :)

Dog Portraits - Acrylic on canvas  © suebetanzos.com
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Friday, June 17, 2016

Every Painting Has A Story, Colored Pencil Fox Painting

A colored pencil painting journey with Sara Pennypacker's story of PAX.

Although I know I am incapable of picking a favorite book (because books are sacred, like friends, and you can't pick JUST ONE), each story has a special place in my mind.
I usually have several books to choose from that I either read or listen to as I paint. (I am addicted to audio books!).

Pax  by Sara Pennypacker is a lovely, touching story I listened to and was very inspired by. The colored pencil painting that resulted from feelings as I listened (and then read again) to this story is of Pax and his friends. Their journeys. Animal stories are some my top favorites.
(How many times do companions wait for the return of a loved one, trusting that they will return?)

A great story I really enjoyed and hope you will too. Find it on Amazon, your local library (Tucson Pima Libraries for me), or audio book.


Pax  10" x 12" Colored Pencil Painting ©Sue Betanzos
Available Here
Colored pencil painting on white Stonehenge paper.
Great paper with just enough texture (tooth) for lots of layering, building colors, shades.
Pencils used were Faber Castell, Verithins (for fine detail), Prismacolor. Love the soothing zen of layering colors to create depth and value. (while listening to a story of course :)

Also: a Kum hand held sharpner, kneaded eraser, fine embosser with tape (to lift fine lines of color).






Wednesday, June 1, 2016

On the easel - Pax

A work in progress inspired by a lovely story.  Every artwork has a story either I am listening to or am inspired by. Books, stories are my passion!
I like working in layers in all my media, slowly building color relationships.
Pax in progress  Colored Pencil on Stonehenge paper.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Birdy Journeys - Nature Haiku's

Documenting my experiences in nature with little picture poems - visual nature haiku's.

A few of the birdys I've seen below: house finch, northern beardless Tyranulet, yellow warbler, Wilson's warbler, western tanager, Lucy's warbler, vermillion flycatcher, black throated sparrow, elf owl, verdin.

Watercolor, ink letters  ©Sue Betanzos


Today, Ash throated flycatcher at Isabella Lee Nature Preseve with the guidance of Kendall Kroisen from Audubon.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Top 7 Artist Reference Photo Sites

Getting photo reference is an essential part of a representational artist's research. If you are like me and don't have a high end camera with good telephoto lens, you rely on another's talent in this area if you want wildlife close ups.

Once a composition is designed, I often combine several photos in Photoshop. This Quail Whimsey is about five different photo references combined:
Quail Whimsey   Colored Pencil Painting   9x 12"   ©Sue Betanzos

While I like taking my own photos for small things, here are my top sites and some are free, for great photos:

Paint My Photo  - Free site.  The photos are donated on a wide variety of subjects. Just make sure to credit the photographer when you post images of your art.

Pixabay.com -  Free site. Photos are donated on many subjects. Credit the photographer if you post images of your art from their photo.

Morgue file  - Free site. Make sure to credit the photographer when you post images of your art.

Photos for artists -  Free site. a Great facebook site with tons of donated photos on everything. It's a closed group so you have to ask to join and be on Facebook.

WildlifeReferencePhotos.com  only 5.00 per high resolution image - what a deal.

Birding - Arizona and the Southwest. One of my favorite sites for bird photos. A Facebook closed group, you can ask to join. Everyone is very nice and some may give permission for photo use.

The Hummingbird Whisperer  a friendly facebook group with nice hummer pics. Some may give permission for photo use.


Flicker.com - A wonderful site to look at amazing photos. Search your subject and Ask the photographer if you can use a photo you love. Some are generous and say yes :)


I have my eye on a Cannon power shot sx50 via ebay and Amazon, but it takes much more than good equipment for excellent photos. It's worth it to go to the experts when you want a great photo.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lucy's Warbler Watercolor

A week ago I heard a very different call, right outside my door.
Today I finally glimpsed the bird singing in the dense branches of mesquite trees. It was hard because the bird was small, grey and very quick - flitting from branch and tree.
I've since discovered that most warblers are small and very quick, as they eat the insects.

It was fun solving the puzzle because for a while all I could hear was the call. Plus I was determined to find it.
Once sited and after a bit of searching with sound and site matching I learned I had spied a Lucy's Warbler. It's call was insistent, distinctive.
Here is the little bird gem that I torpedoed a mornings work to find. Dashing out whenever I heard it's call in hopes of spotting it!

Lucy's Warbler Field Study - Watercolor, colored pencil


While searching I was also treated to bright red Cardinal, Phainopepla, cheerful House Finches, Mourning Doves, and a lovely rich orange Queen Butterfly!

Also, yesterday around 6 pm on returning from my jog I stopped to watch a Cooper's Hawk dine on a fresh dove. It was amazing how fast it finished. The hawk has a large nest in a large tree by my house. Ruby amber eyes flashed in the late sunset as it neatly finished it's meal.

Time to get back to work - Continuing on my fun new Birdy Journey - I am Drawn By Nature.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sunday Hidden Magic

A few birds from last Sunday's birding. I'm going to go back for some field sketching before it gets too hot.
Meanwhile I have written notes and get reference photos from favorite photo sites I will share in another post. The best part after the adventure is painting and drawing with my notes!





My nature list and a few subjects.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Color By Number Hummingbird Class

Here is the design for the May 4 coloring class at Kirk-Bear Canyon Library which will have a simple animal color by number.

The design has a few numbered areas that will help understand shading for beginners. Especially in the feather areas. There will be a walk though demo, step by step showing what colors to layer where.

The hummingbird design is available at the Pima County Library in a bilingual coloring book I illustrated for the Tucson Botanical Garden years ago called My New Backyard Garden.

Student materials:
• Quality colored pencils
• Watercolors or watercolor pencils
• Couple of small brushes #1 & #2  or a fine to medium water brush.
• Enthusiasm and a smile!