Interview with OC artist Katy Betz

Land of Milk and Honey
Creating Space for Imagination – Artist Katy Betz

by Jennifer Cheng

Katy Betz is a gallery artist, illustrator, children’s book writer, and muralist, with an artistic statement, “I am an artist devoted to creating space for imagination.” Recently featured in 944 Magazine, in the Orange County October 2010 – The Art Issue, Katy was selected as one of six rising artistic stars in Orange County. Katy is currently finishing her MFA at California State University, Fullerton, and teaches part time as a college professor. She uses her brush to create whimsical, nature-inspired characters and scenery. I participated in one of Katy’s oil painting classes; her passion for art was manifest in her curriculum. She taught me to explore and learn from a variety of artists.

Think about the last time you wondered off into your imagination, where in split seconds you went to a place you did not recall. At that mysterious place came characters and stories that took part in an exciting adventure. If that memory is vaguely familiar, don’t worry; Katy’s paintings will take you to a place where you can let your mind run loose and play.


1. How did you grow an interest for art making?

Hmm, when I was a little child I used my imagination, but not until junior year of high school did I start painting surrealistic art. I did a master copy of a piece by Jim Warren called Mother Nature, and I was hooked on that kind of fantastic painting ever since. But, before that I copied “normal” paintings and did my own paintings from life.


2. What is your creative process in paintings?

My creative process seems to vary, and it depends on if it’s a commission or personal piece. When I’m commissioned to do an illustration, I start by sketching small thumbnails purely from imagination to get an idea of composition. Then I’ll sketch out the main elements to see what I come up with (like characters or places, etc). Then, I’ll go get reference to help me assemble the color scheme, details, anatomy, etc.

When I create my own personal art, it’s usually inspired by something I’ve read or heard or seen. I make a mind map to generate as many ideas as I can based on the theme that has inspired me, then do thumbnails. My work lately has involved a lot of research into symbolism before even starting on the visuals.


3. Why is it important for you to create space for imagination?

My mantra takes on two forms: It represents the literal space I go to create – which is my studio – a space for creating imagination. But primarily, this phrase is important to me because imagination is an incredibly powerful resource that we have as humans. It sets us apart from the animal kingdom – no other creature dreams up things the way we do. I love to imagine, and I want my artwork to encourage others to do the same, adults and children alike. I believe that imagining something (whether it be a feeling, environment, character, event, etc) enriches our lives, makes us empathetic, reconnects us to the spiritual and mysterious aspects of life. Life is wild, no matter how much we like to think we’re in control, not everything can be understood rationally. Imagination encourages faith, inspires, gives hope, and can create a paradigm shift that offers a larger perspective. All these things are why I need to be creative, and why it is important for me to share my imaginations with others. I would not be fulfilled as an artist if I only created for myself – I am interested in connecting with people and showing them wonderful, sublime, fantastical stuff!

House of CreationWEB copy

4. Who are some uprising artists on your list?

Uprising artists on my list…meaning who I think is up and coming in the art world? I immediately look to my peers in the grad department at csuf. Kim Dwinell has a graphic novel being reviewed by Scholastic right now, Pat Cantor just got her first 2 big picture book gigs. From my alma mater, LCAD, I would say fine artist Carolin Peters, Julio and Candice Reyes (husband and wife dream team – super talented). I admire these people because they are relentless in the pursuit of their dreams, they live and breathe art, are kind, humble people (no big egos, thank goodness!) and are making a way.















Current & Upcoming shows: Put these dates on your calendar!


1.Happy Hour – group show

Opening Night: Nov 6th Sat @7-10PM

Memphis Cafe, Santa Ana


Memphis Santaora in Artists Village

201 North Broadway,

Santa Ana, CA 92701


Curated by Sixpack Projects, Jennifer Frias

All artwork are created on bar napkin either 4×4 or 6×6

There will be many other artists featured from Cal State Fullerton


2. Sarah Bain Holiday Show

An Annual Holiday Group Show

During the month of December, 2010


Sarah Bain Gallery

184 Center Street Promenade
Anaheim, CA 92805



3. Viva La Art!

An Art Auction in Los Angeles

Saturday, November 20th @ 8:30PM-12:30AM
Bidding ends 11pm

First and Hope Supper Club
701 West First St, Los Angeles CA



4. Grad Show

April 15th, 2011

CalState University Fullerton – Visual Arts Dept.


More details check her website:


Link to 944 Online Magazine


Thanks Katy! Be sure to check out her work next week at the Memphis Café in Santa Ana. I will be there so I hope to see you all!

-Jennifer Cheng, Contributing Writer

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