Jared Betts | Fine Artist

Since graduating, Jared Betts BFA 2010 NSCAD has kept his suitcases packed and ready to go.

The past two years have been packed with adventure, with one artistic residency leading to another and another.

“When you’re in school, the idea of being a practicing artist seems so far off and unattainable,” says Jared, back in Moncton, N.B., where he grew up. “So I want to say to the students who are in the middle of it that yes, being an artist is possible, but you’ve got to make opportunities for yourself.”

Following graduation, Jared became an artist-in-residence in Skagaströnd in the north of Iceland—a small fishing village hemmed in by mountains and the sea.

Then, in 2011, he completed a month-long artist residency in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica, which in turn led to a second, longer residency at the same place, deep in the rainforest, with tarantulas scrambling in the walls, boa constrictors on the front yard, and butterflies, hundreds of them, thousands of them, everywhere.

His time in Costa Rica led to Espíritu detrás de lashojas (Spirit Behind the Leaves), a solo show at the National Gallery of Costa Rica in San José which opens on December 12.

“With each place I’ve been I’ve learned more about how to be an artist and how to get my work shown, nationally and internationally,” explained Jared, who is represented by Ingrid Mueller Art + Concepts in Fredericton, N.B.

Although quite distinct from each other and diverse, both his Icelandic and Costa Rican experiences were off-the-beaten path, offering him the chance to think and focus on his work without the distractions of urban living. As a painter, he let the colours of nature wash over him, as well as the emotions he felt being a newcomer to the landscape.
“In Iceland, I did a lot of hiking in the mountains—I’d see this fauna that would be so bright and spectacular set in a surreal landscape that was otherwise muted and soft-edged. So that would get mixed into my brain…

“Then in Costa Rica, it was all the bright colours of the houses, the geckos, the butterflies, the baby praying mantis I made friends with … everything gets fed into the creative process. You take that sensory input and construct it into a meaningful whole.

“I’m an abstract painter so I’m not replicating the landscape … it’s more like feeling the color and the energy of the place and letting it flow into the shapes, layers and vibrant colours on the canvas. It’s all been very exhilarating.”