Thank you Betty, for joining us at Hashtag Oz. You haven’t always been an artist. Please let our readers know a little about you professionally.

I may not have been an artist professionally, but in my heart, I always felt like an artist. I didn’t realize it while I was studying to earn my Advanced Diploma from The British Academy of Graphology, but my mentor, Renna Nezos saw that I approached the discipline from a different angle, especially when I wrote up people’s word Portraits. It was more of an intuitive approach rather than a systematic one. My work in Graphology led me to learn the Enneagram so I could help my clients know what their options were once we identified what was going on with them through their handwriting. One of my tempestuous clients encouraged me to write my book, Coffee with the Subconscious… a literary piece about people and their relationships.

In the last two years, you decided to pursue your life-long passion for the arts. This was a huge step for you and a massive life changer. Tell us about it.

Two things happened simultaneously: I was becoming frustrated in my artwork, craving more technical expertise that I was unable to obtain taking local classes and I found myself unburdened from family and business responsibilities. I posted a few of my drawings on social media that were noticed by a neighbour who convinced me to interview with the Admissions Department at The Cleveland Institute of Art. It seemed so surreal that such a prestigious place would be so welcoming to me and even granted me a scholarship. The Admissions Director enthusiastically proclaimed during my interview: ‘Betty… It’s Your Time!’ Unbelievable…

What have been the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards in pursuing your goals as a mature age woman?

The biggest challenge occurred during Orientation when people assumed that I was either a professor or a parent, instead of being an incoming full-time student. I escaped early on the first day and arrived late on the second because I was entertaining thoughts of quitting. The Dean, who had been informed of my feelings, was waiting for me. Tears filled my eyes as she shifted me to the restroom where I collapsed on the floor. 

The greatest reward for pursuing my goals has been the joy, support and encouragement I have received from my family, friends and colleagues.

Just because you aren’t creating what you see in your head, doesn’t mean it’s terrible!

Where do you get your inspiration from? And how do you overcome creative blocks?

My inspiration springs from almost anywhere: A photograph, a texture, a face, a gesture, a quote, a pet, a portrait, flowers, an interesting interaction… I am open to all possibilities.

How do I overcome my dry spells? I’ll explore an art book, or a knitting book… something visually stimulating, or I’ll take myself outside to explore my surroundings.

How has your life changed in the last two years? How have you adapted and adjusted to this change? What have you achieved?

As I am not one for structure and routine, I’ve passionately embraced the creative discipline of projects, critiques and classroom work. I wake up before dawn and arrive early at my studio at CIA where I enjoy putting in a 12-hour day. My initial intent was to pursue a Drawing Major, but an astute Jewellery and Metals Professor recognized my making skills and persuaded me to join her Department. It’s very fulfilling to integrate my love of drawing with various metal and enamel processes. It opens a myriad of possibilities that nurture my curious mindset.

Hashtag Oz is passionate about mental health awareness. The process of getting recognition as a creative person can be a waiting game and for some that waiting game can be very hard. What three pieces of advice would you give to those starting out in the Art Industry?

1. The creative mind can get caught in a lonely, dismal abyss.
For me, it was trying
to understand myself and the why of the unresolved relationships in my life. This necessity brought me to learn Graphology and the Enneagram. I also sought advice from

professional therapists to give me perspective.

2. Nurturing relationships that are sensitive to your creativity is also vital. Don’t keep trying with those relationships where they don’t understand you… let them go.

3. Lastly, don’t be afraid to show your work. Always keep a sketchbook with you, document your work with photographs on your phone, and keep posting them on social media. You never know who will notice.