Artist uses pastel paints for rustic renderings
Friday, September 13, 2013
By LORETTA JACKSON
Elizabeth “Betsy” Craumer renders pastel paintings that rarely show every crack in a wall or every tuft of grass growing from the side of a path leading to a big, red barn.
Instead, they are gentle replications that while depicting the subject, give a general impression of warmth, vibrance and the beauty of nature.
Craumer grew up in Maryland but spent many of her summers at her grandparents farm in Chichester. The barn there and the surrounding scenery provided memorable images for her to paint, draw and photograph. The expressions began when she was a young girl. Today, she continues to enjoy creating art with a rustic touch.
She took private art lessons as a teenager and entered her works in local art shows. Later, she earned her bachelor of fine arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. A master’s in art education followed. Currently, she works as a paraprofessional at Pembroke Academy High School and shares her love of art at every opportunity. She and her family have lived in Bedford for some 10 years.
Some of Craumer’s art training entailed painting with pastel paints. She found she enjoyed working in pastel over anything else. Upon moving to Bedford, she determined it was time to organize an art studio in her home. It is a well lit, bright space with plenty of room to create her pieces.
“I got busy with oils but when I would go back and do pastel, I would think that I’d really like to go back and do more of that someday,” Craumer said. “When I moved here, I thought, ‘Now’s the time.’”
Craumer wears gloves to handle the chalk-like sticks of pastel. She refrains from blending with her fingers. Instead, she adds layers of pastel in different colors to create depth and texture. She works with her paper secured almost vertically and catches falling pastel dust in a tray attached to the bottom of the paper she uses as a canvas.
“I come down in the morning and work,” Craumer said. “I like the morning because you usually don’t get distracted by something that needs to be done.”
She said she enjoys painting meadows and farmland scenes. She finds compelling subjects of old barns, such as the one she so often visited in her youth. She is intrigued with the history and the sense of tradition. Her grandfather used to sell milk. There were implements and tools in his barn that few who were not into farming would have recognized.
“Every corner of the barn was used for a special thing,” Craumer said, recalling details she has painted at one time or another. “There were nooks and crannies.”
Her website, www.betsycraumerart.com, is a testament to the many inspirations she discovered in travels around New England and elsewhere. Images of sunsets, meadows, paths meandering into a lush forest and barns reflect her favorite subjects.
She finds that using pastels gives her the freedom to go back into a piece and add or subtract elements with ease. The addition of some leaves to a tree or a bit more yellow onto a path through the woods is easily accomplished. Pastels do not have to dry, as do oils.
“If you make a mistake using pastel, it only takes a couple of brushes to fluff it out,” Craumer said. “You also can leave a painting and come back two days later and it’s waiting for you.”
Craumer’s works are available at art shows and craft shows. Some of her paintings are poster-size, while many are larger, suitable for display over a fireplace or in a living room.
“You see us (artists) set up in white tent villages,” Craumer said. “I also hear from customers by email or through my website. I might go to a site and take some preparatory photos for the client. Then, I do a lot of tweaking. I’ll usually email them an image of what I’ve done – what it looks like.”
Craumer steps back and inspects her latest work, one well on its way to completion. She recommends painting to anyone with the desire to make something beautiful that is one-of-a-kind.
“If they want to do it, practice,” she said. “It’s not something that comes easily. It’s not like turning on a light switch.”
For information on her work, visit www.betsycraumerart.com.
Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a new monthly series called Artist Spotlight. If you would like your work or someone else’s highlighted as partf of this series, email Editor Erin Place at firstname.lastname@example.org.