Life On and Off the Canvas

Posted On March 1, 2023

Artist Betty Hendrix finds her passion in color pencil

By Kim Henry

They say age is just a number and this aptly applies to Whispering Pines artist, Betty Hendrix, who at 84 years old, just exhibited 37 original pieces at the arts council of Moore County, loves to teach and is still an active member of multiple art related boards, leagues and clubs.

Born in Richmond, Indiana, Hendrix grew up surrounded by music and art, playing both piano and violin herself, and began drawing at a young age. Initially water colors held her attention but Hendrix credits her sister for introducing her to color pencils and to becoming a member of the International Color Pencil Society which spearheaded her life-long connection with this medium. However, despite starting her college education as an art major, she finished with a degree in Business and Economics and this led her into an office management position within the U.S. Department of Treasury. It wasn’t until she retired 30 years ago, that she began her long awaited next chapter as a full time artist. “I loved my working life, but it was time to finally do my art full time,” smiles Hendrix from her peaceful home studio, overlooking a glistening lake.

Hendrix and her husband relocated to Whispering Pines from Connecticut 30 years ago and this beautiful setting supports her love of nature, which is the foundation for her artistic expression. As a member of the local photography club, Hendrix loves nothing more than being outdoors, bird watching and taking photos. Photography is an integral part of her creative process, which often begins with a photograph that has caught her eye. “I use my own photographs to draw from 99% of the time. If you photograph something, you’ve already fallen in love with it and so you have a far bigger chance of creating something meaningful,” explains Hendrix.

Ever active, Hendrix is the only remaining founding member of the Artist League of Sandhills, which she has watched grow from a handful of members to a thriving league of over 150 artists. The league has its own building where they conduct classes, workshops and host studio space for some of the artists. As an active member, Hendrix both has a studio and teaches, running workshops in color pencil and pastel drawing, which has slowly become her main medium. “It’s demanding but I love it,” beams Hendrix referring to pastels.

The League clearly provides a wonderful point of connection and social contact for many people including Hendrix, a grandmother who lost her husband 12 years ago. Deeply valuing meeting other artists and sharing her passion with other people, Hendrix continues to have a rich and vibrant life, both on and off the canvass.

Her work celebrates nature in all its finery, and her use of color, light and shadow is amplified by the her chosen mediums, both color pencil and pastels. “Once I tried pastel, I fell in love with it. I love the way the color works, it’s forgiving and faster than color pencil! To be honest, color pencil can be very slow going,” confesses Hendrix with a chuckle. Her pastel work is done on pastel boards that have a sanded surface where the grit both holds on to, and enhances the colors. This strong backing also makes framing an easier process. Understanding which paper or board is best to use is an area that Hendrix loves to teach within her workshops.

Hendrix can have multiple projects on the go at any given time and each one can take weeks to reach completion, depending on the amount of detail. From stunning landscapes to bird studies, florals and a body of small works, Hendrix art is a feast for the eyes and soothing to the soul. Winner of multiple awards, Hendrix also exhibits in a number of galleries including Exchange Street Gallery of Fine Art in Aberdeen, Mansion at Strathmore in Maryland and the Ambleside Gallery in Greenville, NC. “It’s a meditation for me. I am able to forget everything else that’s going on in the world and focus on something I love to do. Honestly, I think it’s keeping me alive,” smiles Hendrix.