Tom Betts' exquisitely rendered artworks undoubtedly fit into the tradition of realist painting, but there is far more at work here than meets the eye. Adding deep layers of meaning and metaphor to the containers, cups, landscapes and lights that dominate his oil paintings, the California-based painter takes realism to sophisticated new levels, successfully employing figuration to capture more elusive concepts, such as the nature of existence, in a way more commonly achieved through abstraction.
Betts' handling of light, color, texture, and composition is as compelling as that of the most accomplished academic painters of the past. Observing his subjects from both life and photographs, he carefully captures nuances of light and shadow, line and form to create atmospheric images that lure the viewer in with their mysterious subjects: string lights, single or multiple porcelain cups and saucers. But these works, of course, are not just vehicles to display his expert handling of paint and well-trained eye.
Born and raised in Bountiful, Utah, Tom Betts was drawn to the stillness and desolation of the Great Salt Lake. Identifying with the lake’s entropic lure, he floats along with family heirlooms, mesmerized by the fragility of innocent identity within nature. As time ages these everyday objects in his work, their nostalgia glows brighter with the light that illuminates these moments of quiet simplicity. Now living in Southern California, Betts continues to paint the subjects that float along with him.
His work has been featured by Southwest Art Magazine, Artists Network, and Park City Mountain Morning News. Betts received his BFA and MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Utah.