Welcome Bienvenidos!

* Individual and group art classes are available :) Contact me here or Facebook or my website SueBetanzos.com

* Summer classes in Coloring, Painting and Mosaic are starting! Contact me here or Facebook or my website SueBetanzos.com to arrange a local class for a fun summer activity. Ages 9 to adult, beginner to advanced.







Saturday, November 17, 2012

Miniature Portraits

What is a Limner?
I had never heard of the word until I read the second book in the Deborah Harkness All Souls trilogy, Shadow of Night (the first is A Discovery of Witches). Both of these books are excellent reads and I especially enjoyed the audio versions. The second has colorful, realistic descriptions of life in the Queen Victoria era.
In this story which is mostly set in 15th century England during the reign of Queen Victoria, there is mention of a Limner. A Limner is a freelance artist, a decorative painter, and in this story, who specializes in tiny, miniature portraits of the royal court that were often done to fit lockets or worn as brooches.
There are some very famous limners and the one mentioned in the book is Nicholas Hilliard.
As I fell down the rabbit hole of information regarding this genre, I am fascinated by the detail of these tiny portraits. I also found pets and animals painted in reverse on the backside of glass and rock crystal. How I would love to have one of these miniature gems or at least see how they were done to such perfection. Most are 1 1/2" to 3".

What does this subject have to do with my paintings? Currently I will be painting another 5"x7' miniature and also a reverse glass painting with many very fine miniature details. Both are very entailed and require a magnifying glass to paint them. Oh, and very tiny brushes and liners! I am assuming that is what the limners of the past used for painting the tiny portraits - magnifying glass.

I love the fact that it is thanks to artists visual recordings that we know the history of fashion, lifestyle, and so much more about different eras in human history. Enjoy these exquisite little masterpieces by Nicholas Hilliard that you can hold in the palm of your hand, 1 1/2" - 3". Notice the tiny dog in the full length portrait "~)  All are 3/4 views with jewel like colors and details. Click on the image for the full size.





Friday, November 9, 2012

Sprinkle Bakes: Blue Velvet Cupcakes and Finding the Perfect Hue

Sprinkle Bakes: Blue Velvet Cupcakes and Finding the Perfect Hue

Did I say how much I enjoy playing in my kitchen when not in the studio? Well, actually it IS like another studio for me. Only my palette is food and my canvas is whatever comes out of the oven.

One activity I am addicted to is cruising food blogs. Just looking at the gorgeous photos as I read the recipes already has my tummy growling and my pen scratching out the ingredients list. Now that winter has finally come to Tucson I am motivated to turn on my oven to unwind from the day. Summer it's just not happening - I mean seriously, who feels like baking when it't 90º outside? Obviously, not me...



I am sharing this beautiful recipe from a favorite food blogger Sprinklebakes because I LOVE the color and it's actually pretty easy. Like making Red Velvet cake, but in blue. Adding few teaspoons of water to the color paste makes for smoother mixing into the batter though.
Check out Heather's blog for more tasty treats!





Saturday, November 3, 2012

Millie Finished

 I know I was supposed to show the in-between stages of the painting but it has gotten pretty busy and no time! So here is little Millie a sweet little dog who is so endearing that it's easy to overlook her little habit of stealing and hiding things.

Owner Laura was telling me the story of Millie stealing and chewing up some pretty expensive hearing aids and as I sat looking and Millie's sweet, innocent, bright eyed little face I could not help but laugh.
We all have met people and dogs who can get away with almost Anything! It's hard to stay annoyed with them and we end up laughing instead knowing we should be upset, but finding it easier to laugh.  O.k.  - lesson there - don't hang on to your anger and hold grudges! It takes more effort to stay mad and gives you frown lines - Very unattractive.
Plus, everyone wants to be around Happy people who are easy to hang out with instead of those heavy personalites - yeek!
Dogs have an lot to teach us, just pay attention and Go Play "~)
Because Millie is so cheerful and bright, that stupid OLD rhyme tune goes thru my head "Millie, Millie, mo Millie, banana fana fo fillie me mi mo Millie - Millie!" It's great that our dogs like our silly song and dances - knowing it's just for them LOL  :~D

 Hi Millie, Hi Laura!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Face Painting for Feast of The Dead

Alright, here's a little side painting that turned out to be a blast. Did I say I love to paint? My canvas can be traditional, cookie or face/body.
These are a couple of the Many faces I painted for Tucson Botanical Gardens Feast of the Dead event this past Saturday.
The theme was Day of the Dead so it was mostly skulls except for grandmothers who just wanted something on their cheek or the little ones who wanted animals or something very simple.

I am grateful someone took these photos because the reality was that almost as soon as I got there (and I arrived 20 min. early) people started lining up to get their faces painted. My plans to have photos taken never happened because the line for face painting never let up and was at least 6 people deep for the next 2 hours.

There was another face painter there whom I never formally met because even though I arrived early - he was there Earlier already painting!
He had a large kit full of paints, sequins etc. and as it turns out, he is a professional face painter so his kit was very tricked out and he was very experienced. I brought some nice Snazzaroo face paints, my paint brushes, some wipes and water thinking I would have time to get fresh water, wipes etc. - never happened.

It was an intense two hours of painting and at the stroke of exactly 7 pm the other face painter packed up and left - quickly. He was already booked for another gig and knew as long as he stayed, people would keep coming.
I stayed an extra 30 minutes to finish the little ones that had been waiting and one lovely Mariachi girl, then I packed it in too. 

What a fun event - I was buzzed on adrenaline driving home thinking wow, I had a great time AND got tips! Actually it was the other painter who put out a tip jar and people just started giving me tips too - which made me smile All the way  home.   A bit of extra cash to keep my Risa in cans of her favorite doggy food - LOL :~D

I hope TBG keeps me in mind for next year. Then I will be a bit more prepared for the crowd, with more glitter colors (love using them!!) sequins, glitter paint. As it turned out I did pretty good with eight colors, two glitters, a water bottle, some wipes and a handful of brushes. Plus when people found out what I paint for my day job, dogs/animals, they asked for my card.

Painted lots of skulls - calaveras. All the while in the background there was a fabulous Mariachi youth band which I loved and could have listened to all night.

Keep your eyes open for next years Tucson Botanical Feast of the Dead event. Music, food, sugar skull decoration, presentations and Face Painting "~)

The next event will be the Luminaria Nights December 7, 8, 9 from 5:30 - 8 pm. A lovely evening at the gardens full of twinkling lights, music and treats.

Friday, October 19, 2012

More adventures in Porcelain Painting


Desert Kit Fox porcelain painting (click to enlarge)
Another experiment in porcelain painting as I explore this new media. It will be added to the que to fire at the end of this month. All of the plates will eventually be put up in the cookie store as decorative serving plates.

Foxes are such adaptable creatures. In the UK they are common urban wildlife much as the coyote is in the southwest. In the Tucson, AZ area kit fox is rarely seen, being mostly nocturnal. This plate painting is of of a San Joaquin kit fox which is endangered due to habitat encroachment. They are California residents.
Though wildlife Do Not make good pets due to their wild nature they are born with, there is a story of a man who rescued an injured red fox that is so touching! Watch the story of Cropper The Fox  HERE.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"You had me at Hello"

Loved Companions 
Honoring our loved companions that had us at the tail wag "hello". From the first look, lick, tail wag or bark, they have our hearts and give unconditionally of themselves. For this and so many additional reasons I do not tire of portraying the love. Doing my best to reflect and capture the spirit of the bond that owner and dog have.
I have only seen that look of innocent, trusting love and devotion in young children. Oh, and my Risa every day when I return or speak to her "~)

Beautiful Leaves

Fall,  my favorite time of year. Cooler days and crisp nights perk me up after the summer heat.  It motivates me and for some reason, I need less sleep!  Instead there are more late nights in the studio.
This year I want to get out more instead of getting caught up in the usual hustle of pre-holiday designing and gearing up. It would be great to Enjoy my favorite season so I am resolved to get out of my studio, off the design computer and touch the lovely trees.
I do miss the gorgeous fall colors. When I visit my parents their streets are lined with a kaleidoscope of fiery reds, rich yellows, golden oranges. Makes me want to jump in the leaves and toss them in the air!

I have created a fall gift box to help scratch that itch and will also Try to get a couple of paintings in of fall leaves.  These sugar cookies are light and crisp in texture and taste, decorated with sparkling sugar crystals. They will look pretty on any table.
I wanted to create a porcelain botanical painting of leaves to go with this set, but might be running out of time :~( .   If only I didn't need sleep - I'd rather be in the studio!
A porcelain painting of a kit fox and a couple of others coming soon...

Fall Holiday Sugar Cookie Gift Set



Friday, October 5, 2012

Retriever Bonnie

Bonnie was a wonderful Chespeak Bay Retriever. Lively and always ready for action, these sporting dogs are strong swimmers and have a lovely, curly coat that comes in two colors. This is the light cinnamon and it was fun to paint the curly hair. A nice memorial portrait of a sweet girl who lived a long, wonderful life.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sweet Dreams

Panda Play - Overglaze on repurposed porcelain plate
Sweet Dreams - Overglaze on repurposed porcelain plate
Two more paintings on repurposed plates I found hunting at a thrift store.  It is really interesting as I learn the possibilities of painting with overglazes on finished porcelain ware.  A whole world of ideas has been opened!
Most of the focus will be on endangered animals. The porcelain ware will be varied.  Repurposed or new, each is hand painted with no two alike - no mass productions here!
Originally started as a concept for cookie plates, the project has taken on a life of it's own and moved toward my beloved wildlife, animals, dogs, botanical subjects.

My friend Carol Hedgedus from Handmade Tile Studio has empowered me to pursue this interest by loaning me paints, her super helpful book China Paint And Overglaze by Paul Lewing, and giving me an older kiln. I am forever grateful to her for her generosity.

The kiln will not be ready for some time due to a bit of electrical work, so meanwhile I am looking for local sources to fire my plates and tiles.

Sweet Dreams and Panda Play will be available as limited editions thru my Etsy cookie store MoonLight Cookie Art. 
Enclosed with every Wildlife plate will be a few facts on each subject and a portion of the proceeds is donated to World Wildlife Fund and Nature Conservancy - two of my favorite educational charities!

While there is quite a bit of information on Pandas and Polar Bears, below are a few facts I have learned from a book I recommend The Great White Bear by Kieran Mulvaney.


Did you know:

• Polar bear fur is not really white. The fur is colorless and absorbs the colors of surroundings.
• Pandas have only one baby born about 5 inches long.
• Many male bears will kill the cubs if given the chance.
• Pandas diet consists almost entirely of bamboo, unlike most bears.

More will be added to this list as I learn about these endangered, beautiful animals.




Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dogster Art "Pics We Love"

Yay! My work has been featured in the national magazine Dogster.
http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/sue-betanzos-dog-art-public  Check it out, it's a fun magazine for dog lovers and their mate Catsers is for kitty lovers. There is a link for it on the page :~)

They showed my acrylics and mosaics below including a few of sweet Risa, my 24/7 K9 companion.
I am excited and honored by this and most of these are available on my website, just click on the purple title to visit the art link.

Betsy - acrylic on canvas

Olivia - acrylic on canvas

Risa Belly Rubs - acrylic on canvas board

Risa Stargazer - mosaic, reverse glass painting

Risa in Yellow - mosaic, reverse glass painting

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Adventures in Ceramic Illustration

Tender Fawn

Hummingbird

Porcelain repurposed plates ready for new life
The Illustrations on porcelain are cookie plates that are food and dishwasher safe because the glazes and paints are fired on.
Cookie Panda was the very first attempt with this medium and I am still getting the feel for it. These are ready for firing and I can't wait to see how they will come out!

The fawn and panda are done with oil based mediums and the tiny hummingbird with a water based medium. Will see how the detail holds in the firing.

Went to a thrift store and picked up more inexpensive porcelain to experiment with. A variety of sizes ranging from the 6" as in the hummingbird to a large stoneware platter with a blue rim.

Staying with pure white for plate colors and black/white illustrations with maybe one additional color.

Endangered wildlife will be most of the focus, but I am already planning a few dog designs. And o.k., fawns and hummingbirds are not endangered, but they are good practice as I get a feel for the medium.

More later as I design for my new loot of repurposed dish ware!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Art Enriches Our Lives

Mural for Wright Elementary School - Finished!
Mural Vinyl Lettering Installation

Mural Vinyl Lettering Application
This charming, welcoming little mural is for the John B. Wright elementary school entry lobby.The school has a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, hence the STEM in the school title.

In collaboration with the principle, Maria Marin, the design features a bit from several areas.
The Monarch butterfly life cycle on the left will reference the school garden in the courtyard that will teach students plant life cycles and butterfly life cycles by planting the milkweed which is the food source for the caterpillars.

Clouds and rain illustrate climatology. Our solar system on the right shows our planets place in our solar system ruled by our sun.

Little R2's cousin is the robotic technology reference and will provide the students with an opportunity to name it - maybe a contest!

Erupting volcano and sedimentary rock layers the robot is standing on remind of the earth's geological history.

A family of little quail reference the natural world and biology of nature.

Seek and find numbers from 1 - 12 are hidden in the mural. Some are obvious, some more hidden and a few require that special and most important ingredient - Imagination!

Where would we be without imagination of inventors who thought - "what if" and invented cars, electricity, computers, even air conditioning.

Before the mural - the original entry.
The vinyl lettering for the professional finish to this mural was generously donated by the Cook Sign Company, who did the school's original outdoor sign many years ago and has been making signs since 1976.
Another invention - digital lettering! Hand lettering is not common and today almost every lettering and sign is fabricated on a computer digitally and applied either by hand or machine.

These letters were carefully rubbed onto the rough surface using fingers on the thin fragile letters. The letters are self adhesive and merely require a super clean surface to stick, much like decals.
I wonder who Imagined this brilliant concept.....

As this mural demonstrates, art is meant to be shared and enriches our lives.

Have you found all 12 numbers?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lucky Dog Art Cookies

Lucky Dog Art Sugar Cookies
Art cookies ready for shipping to a national dog rescue charity event and Reverse glass painting at the Tohono Chul Park art reception tonight.

Sugar Cookies are comfort food in any language and almost always guaranteed to bring a smile to kids of All ages.
I am glad to be able to help those who have no voices. Well now they do thru the hard work of all the volunteers it takes to make these charity events run smoothly and find homes for dogs rescued.

Off to the studio  - working on Border Collie paintings and wildlife porcelain plates - cool!

Bat Night Magic - reverse glass painting
Oh, the reception at Tohono Chul for the Pollinator's Exhibit is tonight and as one of the participating artists I will be there to answer all questions regarding reverse glass painting and my work. What is reverse glass painting? How is it done? How long have I been an artist?
Look forward to seeing familiar faces there - meeting new ones "~)  It's not easy for me to get out of the studio and speak to lots of strangers, but I know the more I do this, the more comfortable it will get.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I "Heart" Cookies

Today I went to my friend Carol's house and as usual fell through the time worm hole. No matter my intentions on time management, as soon as I step through her front door Fwwwwp **Zap*'! hours pass like minutes. 

I had contacted Carol about painting on porcelain plates since she is a ceramic guru. Inspired by artwork I had seen on Etsy, I wanted to do a few plates as a complement to my cookies. Cookies on a plate with possible mug for a 'cookies and milk' offering that I will list in special section.
It was very experimental and fun. She is such good hostess, with lots of very cool, exotic teas. I had an ice tea of lemon, berry and something else. It was delicious!

Oil painting is a medium I have not tried until today. No reason, just never got around to it. This plate was done with ceramic oil paints so until it is fired, it never dries. I came home with two more plates to play with and the materials to do them with - wow! The cool part is since my paintings are fired, they will be dishwasher safe - unlike some of the artists who use paints that are not permanent or dishwasher safe. 

Tomorrow after my meeting I will do the other two plates and order some materials.  Since animals are my strong suite I will do more of my animals eating - Cookies'! Also some with quotes I like. I am already excited because these are more cost effective than my beloved mosaics and super fun. I want to keep them simple, black and white with a punch of color. I can already see raccoons, birds, otters, panda, dogs. Maybe even a mermaid or other fantasy since I love fantasy and the magical.

Meanwhile isn't this a cute Panda cookie plate?! Stay tuned for new works in art, cookies and life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Purple Rain


Storm Ahead


Lightning Show in Tucson

July and August is monsoon season in southern Arizona with dark indigo purple thunder clouds and lightning forming almost every afternoon. Thunder rumbling, brilliant flashes of lightning, then powerful torrential downpours that can flood areas in minutes, at times causing flash floods that have stranded many a motorist who insist on driving through.

Sometimes it's a big buildup and then just enough rain sprinkles the ground to make the pavement steam - a rain teaser.

Other afternoons, like last week it comes down so heavy and hard that the parked cars outside of the supermarket (where I was stranded) are barely visible in the grey curtain of heavy downpour. But typical monsoon style, it ended after about 10 minutes of fascinated observation by everyone who decided to wait it out inside and respectfully watch the storm.
Like many, I had decided to wait out the violent, heavy downpour with the winds whipping the rain sideways. Of course there are always the brave souls who walk in (or out) soaked, squishing onto the soggy token carpet at the entry. 

Observers, like myself, burst out laughing at one lady who squished in, drenched, raccoon eyed from melted make up, with her straw hat clinging limply to her head and announcing "it's only water, you won't melt!".  It was one of those memorable Gary Larson, The Far Side moments.

O.k., so she doesn't mind squelching through the store in puddles and soaking the seat of her car when she leaves, (she wasn't going to let a little rain stop her) but the rest of us did mind and were willing to wait out the 10 minutes or so, taking the opportunity to chat with each other as we watched the parking lot fill with water, the shopping carts getting pushed around by the wind and torrents of rain. When it slowed to a light sprinkle, we all splashed to our cars. Soaked shoes, mild wet, o.k. - soaked clothes in high wind and sideways rain - no thanks (given the choice...). 

Short, heavy outbursts laced with spectacular lightning shows are what the monsoons are about - then the sweet, clean, cooler air, birds chirping, and often spectacular sunsets. 

One birdie wasn't chirping though - the one I found on my driveway when I returned. Poor thing had been blown out of the tree in the high winds and lay, feet up, in the center of the drive. I did the plastic bag shuffle, scooping it up and disposing it in the overgrown wash where it would make a meal for some critter - recycling.

No matter how many times I have seen the heavy rains/lightning, each time is new as I stare in fascinated wonder at the raw power and beauty of nature (from a sheltered place- like a car or store).

**I did not take any of the pictures in this post. They are from images under Tucson Monsoon.
What not to do when it floods

Friday, July 13, 2012

Almost Finished

Now that it's about done I discover a few things I want to change before I put the mosaic tape. Once the tape is laid on there is no going back.
It is a one time deal.
There are a few things I have learned the hard way for next time.
Can't wait to see this done - it will be beautiful!

Friday, July 6, 2012

For Riley, Sweet Goldi Girl

LuckyDog Sugar Cookie Gift Box


I am donating this Lucky Dog sugar cookie gift box for a silent auction for the National Mill Dog Rescue. I am glad I can help . It made me think of personal dog experiences. These are my stories I shared with Rebecca and will share with you because they still haunt me:

There is a lady out by my friends house that has moved and left her 3 dogs behind in an enclosed chain link type area. It has been a few weeks now.
Someone comes by to feed and water them and they have access to shelter (a doggy door I think) but other than that they are alone - a pack of three.
No point calling the human society - they have food, shelter, water and would be worse off in the overcrowded shelters - would stand less of chance. But it's hard to watch them wait, wait, watch the end of the road - waiting for someone to come home. The expectation in the three faces clearly asks Where did she go? When will she be coming back for every day again?

Similar situation in CA few years ago for my dad's neighbor who had a goldi named Riley who was completely isolated in the back yard. My dad used to go make sure she had fresh water since they would just fill a bucket every few days. Ants would get in her food and dad would get her fresh food, give her treats, love. Riley was almost never allowed in the house even when the frosts and freezing came.
When the fires came and all the houses were burning down nearby many home owners were advised to leave. Riley's owner left - and left Riley behind. My parents did not leave, but they were packed up, ready and dad was ready to take Riley too. He was not going to leave her to the fires.

Today I still refuse to speak to this lady. Riley passed away this Jan.. They say Riley died of a seizure. I know she died of loneliness.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wishing Everyone A Safe Wonderful Independence Day
Fireworks, great food, friends and family - that's how many will be celebrating our Independence Day. I hope it will also be a time to be truly grateful that we live in a country that gives us so much freedom to realize our dreams.

People from many countries still have the perspective that if they can only get to this wonderful country their fortunes will be made. Depending on where they are coming from, that could be true because the things we take for granted like running water, electricity, sewers, paved roads - these are luxuries in some parts of the world. The freedom to travel wherever we want without having to get on a wait list to leave our own country, or how almost everyone has their own car.

So many things, large and small that one can really appreciate if given the opportunity to travel outside our great nation.
Enjoy, reflect, and do a lot of Oooohs and Aaahs as blue, green, red, purple, and gold sparklies rain from the skies with big crackling booms and pops.

*****Oh, please, please keep your pets secured and safe during the evening celebrations since the fireworks freak out almost every dog, cat, horse. ****

Friday, June 22, 2012

Half Way There

Almost there. Still have to do the touchy part of  applying clear tile tape to the face, Carefully lift it off, turn it over, Carefully peal off the sticky paper it is on, then Very Carefully apply it to the round substrate that will be prepped with cement thinset.
It's a one shot deal from the time tile tape is applied to the face to the actual finishing. 
This technique is called the Double Reverse application method in mosaics and can be very touchy. I am both nervous and excited - I love challenging techniques.
I chose this method after reading about it in Sonia King's Mosaic Techniques and Traditions and Sandra & Carl Bryant of Showcase Mosaics use this method exclusively for all their public art installations. Their work is beautiful.
They also work in stained glass mosaics and after reading a forum on their technique I decided to use it for this project because of the extreme complexity of design and shading. 
It sure would be nice to have them here for tips - but here I go!
(the black piece of glass by the ear is for lettering, not part of the design)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

One Hundred 'Biscuits'

Tea parties are always fun. Memories of "tea and cakes" or "tea and biscuits in the garden" bring a smile and thoughts of pretty days in my neighbors garden with some sort of sponge cake and biscuits (cookies) with tea served from a favorite teapot. 

I lived in the UK for a few years while in the service. Bought a house off base about 20 minutes away in a small village by the sea. Learned all the nuances of living in the economy that cannot be experienced as a tourist or living on base surrounded by Americans. I preferred to experience the culture of another country and what better way than living in the economy where I could become a part of  the story instead of an observer. It was an unforgettable opportunity.

These charming cookies remind me of those days. They were an order placed by someone who will be making her own tea party in an inside garden since the outdoors is currently 107º. The little teapots are a bas relief sugar cookie about 3" round hand decorated and embellished with sugar crystal flowers. Each comes in a clear cello bag tied with a satin ribbon and given as party favors. Ribbon colors of blue, spring green and two shades of pink will give an impression of a festive pretty garden when placed together. Twenty teapots were done in red, white and blue to celebrate our Independence Day and this year's Diamond Jubilee in the UK. 

One hundred teapot cookies weigh a little over 13 pounds. I like to do mail art on all of my boxes when I can. The smiles begin before the box is even opened.



Saturday, June 9, 2012

A NATURE Artist

At last, the article that I should have posted at the first of May. I know, kind of late, but I was sent a PDF which is not accepted to post and finally got the jpg version. For those who did not get the Tucson Lifestyle in their mailbox or rush to buy one, here is the two page spread. Nice and mentions my aussie sweetie Risa and even features my mosaic of my little dog. And no, sadly it's hard to read the article from this jpeg without a magnification via glass or zoom, so you would have to go the library to read pages 17 and 18. 

May was a great but super busy month and was gone so fast. Mother's Day orders got a little crazy and was unprepared for the response for my MoonLight Cookie Samplers. Then Memorial Day, then the Tohono Chul upcoming exhibit which will have two of my glass painting pieces. Now I am in Fourth of July preparations and laying plans for fall shows and promotions. 

I will also be adding pages to this blog on my sketchbook and process. How do I do this or that? Well I will show the how part soon. Meanwhile, you can still read this issue of May Tucson Lifestyle at your local library, one of my favorite hangouts. Did I mention how much I love books and reading?


Click to view the larger version