This is part of a series of interviews with artists working in and around Charleston, West Virginia. We will showcase two artists each month in the website. If you’re an artist who’s interested in having your work featured in WhyCharleston, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How did you get started in your art?
My recollections of the house I lived in till age four was the space under the dining room table where I kept my crayons and drawing supplies, so I can’t remember a beginning. Art was always what engaged me whenever I didn’t have to be doing something else.
What are the major influences in your art?
My most influential teacher was Agnes Huston at Charleston High School. She taught courses in every aspect of art, with all media. Her own paintings were in watercolor which no doubt led me to that preference for my work. Later influences include Gary Fagin at Art Students League in New York, where I honed my drawing skills in the most demanding objective, drawing the figure from life.
What differs your technique from other artists?
I can’t really define that. Some people have called my works expressive realism.
How do you describe the art scene in Charleston?
It is active, and extremely varied in interpretation.
How receptive are the people of Charleston towards your art?
Extremely receptive over the years. My paintings are in many private homes throughout the valley as well as with purchasers who no longer reside here, including Senator Rockefeller. There are collections in local banks, law firms such as Jackson Kelly and institutions such as The University of Charleston and West Virginia State University. The West Virginia Cultural Center has purchased several paintings. I enjoy the challenge of commissions, and have completed many for local firms and individuals, along with many in other parts of the country. They include such varied subjects as a fruit still, life for the cover of Smuckers Annual Report, a montage for a local law firm as a memorial, two golf course paintings, three churches, three dogs, a court house, several gardens, many residences including one in a wooded setting in Redmond, Washington and several from photographs of ancestral homes that are no longer standing; also assorted subjects for four book covers.
What are your favorite art pieces around Charleston?
Definitely the sculpture of the leaping male dancers at the former One Valley Bank building on Summers Street. It gives me a lift every time I pass it.
What particular things in Charleston inspires you to create art?
The proximity to the natural surroundings interest me, and the “front row balcony” views that result from the varying levels of the city. Kanawha State Forest and Coonskin Park are great assets for Charleston.
If you were to create an art piece depicting Charleston, what medium, technique and inspiration would you use?
Of course I would use my preferred medium, watercolor, in whatever manner I would consider appropriate to the subject. My inspiration would evolve after much exploration and contemplation.
Where would you recommend tourists to go for the best place to experience Charleston’s art scene?
First of all, the Irma Byrd Gallery at The University of Charleston, showing a permanent collection of West Virginia women artists. Then the Cultural Center and the Clay Center. Of course I would invite them to my studio to see my current works.
There are two things this Charleston native is passionate about: art and music. Starting from violin studies that catapulted her into chamber music and into the symphony, Betty Warner has been making music for over thirty years. Creating art is equally important — drawing and painting occupies the time in between work and rearing up three beautiful children. To contact Betty Warner please call 304-343-6705 or email her at BettyArts@suddenlink.net.