Local artist Hannah Betzel had gotten away from her craft. Or maybe her craft got away from her. A wife and a mother of two young boys, she looked up at the end of 2014 and realized she wanted to start painting again. So she challenged herself to complete ten paintings by the end of this year. As of the beginning of this month, she’d done 100.
This was thanks in part to the #100daysproject, a movement that sprung up from Instagram to encourage creative people to develop a practice by making a new piece every day for 100 days. The project was created by The Great Discontent, who say it’s “not about fetishizing finished products — it’s about the process.”
My Athens recently caught up with Betzel to discuss her #100daysofabandon, how it’s changed her as an artist and what painting from her home studio has meant for her as a mother.
My Athens: You worked with lots of different media in this project — watercolor, acrylic, collage and more. Did one emerge as a favorite?
Hannah Betzel: I like collage a lot and mixing that with acrylics, mostly. I found I like watercolors more than I thought I would. I always thought my work would be real stiff, working with it. Once you put it down, it’s there, you can’t really erase it. But I went at it with a playful attitude and mixed it with other things like colored pencils and pastels, and that took away from the harshness.
You say you got back into painting with this project. What drew you away from it in the first place?
I think the fear of not being able to make it as an artist. I think that’s what held me back for a long time, thinking there’s no way I can make any money with that.
Has your feeling about that changed over the course of this project?
I think so, yeah. It’s showed me that you can make it if you really put work into it. That’s really what it comes down to.
You’re holding a reception and viewing of work from this process at BMA at Home this Thursday night from 6-9. How did your relationship with BMA start?
I had never been in the store. I have no idea why it took me so long to get in there. I was posting my 100 Days Project on Instagram and eventually Breckyn [Alexander, the owner of BMA at Home] got in touch and said she really liked my work and she wanted to see something in person.
What’s next for you?
Next, I think is I want to do a couple of series that go together. I wanted to focus on one style and do maybe ten paintings in that particular style.
I’m a seamstress as well, so I do a lot of sewing, and I’m inspired by runway stuff in my paintings.
I reconstruct old clothes, and make some of the boys’ clothes and make some stuff for myself. I was in the Olives and Wax Vintage [Repurposing Project fashion] show this summer. I had an outfit in that. I’ve sold some kimono tops at a local shop and Community wants me to put some stuff in there.
Sounds like you’ve had a really fruitful year!
It’s been busy! I’ve gotten a lot of work done.
What were you up to before all this?
I’ve been really busy with my sons and not really focusing a lot on trying to get stuff out to sell. I want them to see me succeed as an artist. I think it’s important for them to grow up knowing not to be afraid of their dreams, and even if it feels impossible, they should go for it.
The home studio must be good for that.
It’s been fun! I used to have an easel in here for them. I have it in their playroom now. They’ll see me do stuff, especially Bruno [my oldest], he’ll see me do these different styles and want to try them. He’s working on a collage now. Treehouse has been a really great resource for us.
How has finding this practice changed your relationship with yourself?
I’m learning how to be more efficient with my time. I’ve never been one to be much for a calendar. I go with the flow. So I am learning the importance of having a schedule and a routine.
Hannah Betzel’s paintings will be on display Thursday, August 13, at BMA at Home in Five Points, from 6-9 p.m.