Saturday, August 14, 2010


The Key to Drawing is Seeing the Obvious
By ANDREA RIVERA Arizona Daily Star
August 04, 2010

Anyone can learn to draw. What stands in our way, says art teacher Betina Fink, is the inability to see what’s right in front of us.

“We are inundated with visual imagery, and we don’t really understand everything we see,” Fink said. “If you are overstimulated by all of the visuals, we do become desensitized.”

To get past our clogged senses, Fink encourages her students at The Drawing Studio to concentrate on the most simple of things – light, form and space.

Fink began teaching art workshops at The Drawing Studio in 1995, and today she’s still teaching drawing and painting to adults. She also serves as the youth program director.

The Art of Summer, a visual-arts program for youths and teens at The Drawing Studio, is in its ninth year this summer.

Youth programs at the downtown studio have expanded from just one class for 15 kids nine summers ago to a wide range of classes, workshops and outreach programs for youths, Fink said.

“I really feel like it is an important thing to do for the community,” Fink said.

Teaching adults oil painting and pastel drawing yields its own satisfaction.

“When I see them grow in their abilities to see and draw, it’s very rewarding,” she said. “When I am working on a new course and I have to practice and research for myself what it is I’m going to be teaching, I grow my own reservoir of information.”

Carolyn Shafer was one of seven students taking a pastel-drawing class with Fink last week at The Drawing Studio, 33 S. Sixth Ave.

Shafer, who lives in Patagonia, said she had no idea what the primary colors were before she started taking art classes from Fink.

“It has opened up a vast field for me to understand the different elements of color and how the brain perceives it, and how important that is for what your final product is,” Shafer said.

Shafer and other students worked on three color exercises with Fink during last week’s class.

With her artist eyes, Fink praises her students for their ability to use the color of their paper as part of the composition of their drawings and their deftness at manipulating just one color by changing its value from light to dark.

Fink, who has a master’s degree in painting from the University of Arizona, says not all artists can teach.

“Their passion has to be at a certain level to be able to articulate and demonstrate how to not only see, but how to record,” she said. “That’s a special ability. I would say most artists have that, because they are visual, but they have to articulate and inspire others.”

She has lived in Tucson on and off since 1985, when she moved here from the East Coast to attend graduate school at the UA. At one time, she lived in Rancho Linda Vista, an artists community in Oracle.

“I was taught by the land. The 80 acres we lived on and the beauty of the natural world was a huge teacher,” said Fink, who lived for seven years in Amsterdam, where she studied the egg tempera medium.

Fink shares studio space with other artists at Ninth Street Studios, and she has had 12 oil paintings going for the last two years.

Her space is like her own gallery of sorts. Several pieces in different states of completion hang on the walls, and natural light pours in from north-facing windows.

One piece, titled “Tightrope,” appears to be a simple painting of an unraveling tightrope.

But the painting’s sky brings depth to the work.

“The sky has always been a really important part of my work,” Fink said. “I’m now looking at the sky in different ways and different combinations.”

All artists want to leave their mark, and Fink hopes to contribute beauty to the world.

But she also is committed to sharing her passion for drawing and painting with her students.

“The experience of learning how to see and learning how to draw is so enjoyable,” she said.

Contact reporter Andrea Rivera at or 807- 8430.

“We are inundated with visual imagery, and we don’t really understand everything we see. If you are overstimulated by all of the visuals, we do become desensitized.”

Betina Fink,
art teacher
Originally published by ANDREA RIVERA, ARIZONA DAILY STAR.
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