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Art & Life with Bettie Geer Rikansrud

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bettie Geer Rikansrud.

Bettie Geer, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I grew up living in faraway places like Japan and Trinidad. My father was a Naval Officer, so we had many adventures moving every two years, overseas and all over the country. Drawing and painting was my focus at an early age. I graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara, majoring in Studio Painting.

After marriage, my husband and I lived in Germany, then later in Alaska, Washington, and California, where we raised our three children. Along the way, I had a career in teaching for 23 years. Always with my art in my mind, I took painting classes in Portraiture, drew my children and taught art classes at the elementary level. We retired and moved to my husband’s hometown of Julian, a small mountain community 60 miles northeast of San Diego, which I had fallen in love with years ago. Here I have been able to pursue my dream of painting and showing my work. Oil is my medium of choice, but I enjoy watercolor and acrylic. I have my own studio, but I love to paint plein air, especially during the late hours of the day, when the atmosphere and light are so provocative. The Julian area is a constant source of inspiration to me. I have shown my work at The Borrego Art Institute, The Fallbrook Art Center, the Francis Parker Art Gallery, and The Julian Arts Guild Gallery. I participate annually in the Julian Open Studios Tour and in the Art Shows in the Town Hall. I am a member of the California Art Club, The Julian Arts Guild, and The Borrego Art Guild.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I love to paint landscapes. The California mountain community where I live is so beautiful, but in the last few years, its beauty has been threatened by drought and the golden spotted oak borer beetle which attack the 200-300-year-old oak trees. I feel compelled to tell their stories, of their beauty and their part in this land. Several years ago on our property, during a wet snowstorm, our largest oak, about 300 years old, split down the middle presumably due to the drought. It was heartbreaking to lose it, but I was able to paint it before it split.

I hope to convey a feeling of peacefulness and beauty in my work. I feel that art helps to transcend the pain and suffering one can feel in this life and I hope my art can instill a sense of calm.

One person who bought one of my paintings told me the moment she saw it, and read the title, “After the Storm”, she felt she had to have it. She had gone through a very difficult time and seeing and purchasing this artwork gave her a sense of hope. I treasured her words.

One day I was painting plein air on our property, and three doe jumped the fence and walked right by me. What an awe inspiring moment! I didn’t move a muscle, and they just kept on walking. So that painting had quite a story!

While in Bosnia visiting our son and family, I saw this quote at a gallery: “the purpose of ART is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls” I think that is beautiful.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
I think for many artists, it is difficult to get their art out there for people to see. Street Fairs are wonderful, as well as co-ops.

Our local arts guild recently opened up The Julian Arts Guild Gallery, which rotates artists on a 3-month rotation, during which the showing artists man the gallery in shifts. People have been very receptive and are surprised to find such a great venue and talented local artists. We display gourds, colored pencil drawings, jewelry, pastels, oils, and photography.

It is difficult for the average artist to successfully market oneself. But to be successful, one must try to do that.

It’s always good to remember that all artists have feelings of inadequacy. But God gives us a vision, and we need to do our best to work towards that. Being an artist is challenging and lots of work, but worth it.

When I get discouraged, I remember the quote from Renoir in 1913: “I’m starting to know how to paint. It has taken me over fifty years’ work to get this far, and it’s not finished yet.”

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Currently, I am showing some of my work at The Julian Arts Gallery in Julian. It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 11-5 and on holiday Mondays.

Artists Reception at The Julian Arts Guild Gallery Thursday, Sept. 27th 5-7
2608 B Street, Julian 92036

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bettie Rikansrud

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