Beth Pite – Capturing the Essence of Something
Art is something that human beings cannot live without. Whether it’s visual or musical, it creates a sensation and a vibration within us. If you meet her, you will find that Beth Pite is a very bright spirit with a radiant smile.
“My art is about color, energy and capturing the essence of something rather than an exact likeness. Using loose, gestural strokes of vibrant color, I want to show how it felt to be there, instead of just copying what my camera records. My paintings often suggest a vignette, a human story in intriguing settings like cityscapes, festivals or the shoreline. By favoring color, form and movement over exact representations of the subjects, I create an enhanced reality which prompts a more emotional viewer response.”
Tell us about how the art began with you. When you were a child, who/what inspired or motivated you to begin down that road?
No one thing I can remember – it seems I was always drawn to color, took photographs, drew, painted, and covered notebooks in doodles when bored in class. My mother is a late blooming artist and her sculptures were around the house when I was a teen, so the talent undoubtedly came from her, but I don’t remember specific encouragement. If anything, quite the opposite, as my father was – and remains – adamant about my doing art only as a hobby while studying something that would help me get a “real job.”
Is art vital to your being?
Does something happen if you don’t paint or create for an extended period of time?
I get cranky, stressed and go into overdrive with my “other” work. Sometimes another creative outlet helps – gardening, decorating, going to a play or concert, making a photo book – but eventually I have to paint again.
Does your art overall serve a purpose?
It gets me in the zone – which, fortunately, can happen with my “other work,” too – that place where you lose track of time and are completely focused on what you are doing. Making art helps me really see and appreciate the beauty and energy around me, from a city street to an ocean sunset. It helps me share with others what I found so amazing about a particular place or time, and helps me relive it so that I get inspired all over again.
Most artists have two lives so to speak. They have their “art life,” then they have another life in which they work or do what they have to do to live and survive. Do you have two lives like that or does your art support your life?
Yes, I have two lives like that and yes, art does support my life anyhow. I’m fortunate in that more and more the two parts intersect. Using my creative talent takes many forms: translating easily between my consulting clients and graphic designers; helping friends buy clothes or decorate homes; working with architects and contractors on a remodeling project; serving on the boards of nonprofit arts organizations. In all ways, my artistic interests help support the rest of my life.
Life is a journey. Life with art is journey. Tell us about the journey that your life has been on through the development of your art. Where has it taken you?
Many places! From California and New York to Europe and South America. From being a split personality in a dark suit all day and bright colors on weekends to being a fully integrated person.
What have you learned and experienced?
Early in my career I started finding ways that my corporate job could include working with advertising agencies and graphic designers. For years as a corporate exec I stayed connected to artists by buying clothes, jewelry and furniture in galleries and at craft shows, and serving on multiple arts-related boards of directors. Eventually I started making my own art again, which I hadn’t done since college, but only as a sideline to my “real” work. I experimented with multiple art forms, from jewelry making, to faux finished objects, to photography, until falling in love with pastel painting – just me and pure color. That helped me grow more confident about showing my work and expressing my experiences through my paintings. I began to let the two parts of my life overlap, realizing that my consulting clients actually like knowing I am creative. These days I consult mostly in the nonprofit cultural/heritage/community development arena, and have no qualms about letting clients see the real me. I still support artists by buying their work, donating to arts organizations and volunteering on boards, but also by using my business skills and experience to strengthen the creative sector.
You mention that you take photos when you travel and then paint using the photos as a reference. Are there times when you do not work from a photo?
I move around a lot when I travel, walking for hours and soaking up the place, and do not want to stand still or miss anything. Painting an outdoor scene in plein air, the holy grail of many painters, doesn’t appeal to me – I don’t like standing still, bugs, lack of bathrooms, or sunburn! Once in a while I’ll work from life, not a photo. Maybe it’s to force myself to stretch in a plein air landscape workshop, or in a life painting session with a live model. Sometimes I do it as a quick exercise when some particularly colorful fruit or veggies inspire me to paint. Mostly, though, I’m a studio painter who wants to focus on nothing but the painting when I actually have time to paint.
Your work is exhibited often. Do you look for something in people if you are there when they are viewing your work? Do you mentally measure their responses?
Absolutely. I hope they’ll be energized, intrigued, upbeat – and perhaps even feel like they were there in that scene, or want to be. I love having people ask about my paintings – the place, the back story, the technique. It’s great when a painting speaks to them so much that they start telling me where in their home or office they want to put it, and why.
We always like to ask a reflective question. When Beth Pite is 80, what will she have accomplished? What will be remembered of you?
Beth makes her community more vibrant, caring and connected through her creativity, energy, intelligence and enthusiasm.
Art by Beth Pite