Some people have all the luck—gorgeous, talented, in love—but when they’re as passionate and kind as Seattle-based artist Betsy Eby, you can’t begrudge them. After a childhood filled with classical piano lessons, Eby turned to abstract painting in her 20s and began to create rhythmic compositions that mirrored the complicated melodies she first learned to love at the keyboard. “My music and art making are interconnected,” she says. “Sitting down at the keyboard is about putting the mind, soul and body into that horizontal space, shaping the musical line, rising and falling with it, crescendo and decrescendo. Painting is the same way, but with tangible materials being transformed as a record of that process.” Here’s a glimpse into Eby’s inner-workings, and let’s hope some of that luck rubs off!
Who are some artists you admire?
Anselm Kiefer, Cy Twombly, Petah Coyne, Jennifer Steinkamp, Pipilotti Rist, Joan Mitchell and my husband, Bo Bartlett.
What’s your personal philosophy?
In the words of Beatrix Potter, “Believe that there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself, and never mind the rest.”
What’s your favorite painting?
Hiroshima, by my husband. It portrays the landscape and rice field of Hiroshima at the sound of the Enola Gay, right before history was changed forever. The color and light quality are spectacular.
Where do you go to relax?
Every year, my favorite place to get away is Wheaton Island, off the coast of Maine. My husband and I live there three months out of the year, and we’re the only people there, so we can paint in seclusion.
What’s on your nightstand?
Robertson Davies’ The Cunning Man, my journal, Mary Oliver’s West Wind book of poems, A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life by Santideva, and Cold Mountain paintings by Brice Marden.
What’s unique about the Seattle art scene?
Seattle has always felt like a place that is constantly looking to the future. We have very little, if any canon or academic rigor here to frame what we do as artists. Seattle smacks of innovation, youth and play. It’s where artists make up their own rules.
Photography by Betsy Eby Studio