48 Ashland Gallery Guide
Selected at random from the
artist membership. Interviewed
by Ann DiSalvo, photography
by Jeanne LaRae.
B E T T Y SUE BARS S
Betty has been painting watercolors
since 1980. She always enjoys seeing
the works of the other artists in the
Watercolor Society, as well as artists at
Art & Soul. Betty gained inspiration from
her grandmother who painted china.
Studying art history, Winslow Homer
stood out as a favorite. She learned
about watercolor from Bruce Butte who
was working at Harry & David in the
graphic department and taught classes
that were mostly attended by employees
in his department, but they were also
open to others.
Betty Sue and Don Barss moved to their
new home in the Rogue Valley in 1974
from San Jose. Don worked for IBM and
Betty taught at Griffin Creek School.
At Griffin Creek she taught fourth and
sixth grades, all subjects, including
music and art. Later, she taught art to art
teachers at Southern Oregon College,
now SOU. She remembers previously
being that student learning to teach.
Her last year of teaching was 1999, after
rheumatoid arthritis limited her mobility.
They have four grandsons, 16, 14,
13, and 12. The eldest two have an
art interest and come to her studio
to experiment with watercolor. They
have two “boys” and two daughters
in law. Betty painted in oils for eight
years when they lived in Los Gatos.
She stopped when they moved here,
feeling it was not safe in the house
while raising kids. When Don decided
to build a garage/shop he asked if she
would like a studio. She’s been painting
in it for ten years, now. She still does
some sketching “up the hill” in their
home, built with the view in mind, on
a rural hillside. Sometimes Betty will
sketch outdoors and take photos to
combine and compose with. “You never
know what will happen.” Sometimes
this includes collage or mixed media.
Her work hangs at Art & Soul, and
at the Rogue Gallery & Art Center, in
the Community Gallery, January 15
through March 1, 2019.
The walls of her sunny studio were
hung high and low with framed
watercolors, mainly landscapes, plant
and animal imagery. “Nature is my
biggest calling, especially birds and
flowers” said Betty. She loves pelicans.
She’s thinking of taking on figure study.
I saw two paintings, one with a row of
birdwatchers silhouetted by a sunset,
the other a self portrait in a swimming
pool with a marvelous rendering of a
cowboy hat in the shadow of the pool
ladder. Both were respectable efforts.
She has a place where she stays to
paint in Eastern Oregon near Plush
and Hart Mountain Wildlife Refuge.
There are the hot springs, the source
of her portrait. Many more
paintings were made there. She
sells a lot of prints at the Plush
Grocery Store and Saloon,
among the Oregon Sunstone
jewelry. There are sunstone
mines nearby, and areas where
they are found on the surface.