By Elizabeth Brannon
Russian nesting dolls are instantly recognizable folk art, and people are eager to open and enjoy each doll within a doll, until the last one is revealed.
Each doll is unique and charming, and from the largest to the smallest, each helps tell a complete story. Once you open the first doll, it’s pretty compelling to open the subsequent dolls until the full work of art is displayed. These decorated wooden dolls “with a secret” are also called matryoshka dolls or babushka dolls.
Like a Russian nesting doll, our local artist, Beth Dilley, has many layers of charm and talent to share with the community.
Beth is a Flower Mound resident who serves on the Cultural Arts Commission, Place 3, and has for three years. In her work on the arts commission, Beth is one of the committee members who help choose artists whose work will be displayed on the Flower Mound Town Hall Art Wall and on the signal boxes in town.
In this arena, Beth loves having a voice for public art in Flower Mound. Beth sees Flower Mound as a vibrant community lucky to have so many talented artists.
Beth is a wife and mother and her two daughters are also artists and creatives. Their interests and talents are in photography, writing and journalism. Beth trusts their voice as young people and artists. She is interested in what they have to say and doesn’t teach her daughters as much as she observes them and provides opportunities for them to create. She appreciates all young artists for their fresh view of the world and for their bravery.
Beth is originally from New Hampshire, via Missouri, and moved to Texas with her husband. She loves Texas and its “why not?” attitude. Beth enjoys the mindset of Texas that supports her creative side. Austin is a mecca for musical arts and all the schools in Texas have award-winning arts programs in music, visual arts, dance and theater. She loves the attitude here and the people in North Texas.
Beth has a BA in Fine Arts and a MA degree. She did her student teaching in Coppell and was blessed that an art teaching position opened in the system. She has taught art in Coppell for more than 11 years, first elementary art and now middle school art. In the future, Beth would consider high school or community college teaching. She teaches a summer art camp for kids. Beth feels teaching is exactly what she is meant to do. She loves her students and helping them express themselves through art. She loves the connection she has with students in the middle school and the varied curriculum she teaches now.
Like most teachers in the era of COVID, Beth teaches students five days per week. Beth has to lesson plan for students in the school and students online with Zoom, and create lesson plans for those who follow plans but without Zoom.
She has approximately 180 students and teaches things like art overview, composition, elements and principles of art, different mediums, 3D (sculpture, clay, plaster, wire, hot glue guns, wood, paint). She uses as many tools in the creative tool box as possible. The more the students like what they’re creating, the more they put into the creation. The tools give students a voice as well as choice. All of her classes are creatively intense. They’re also messy and satisfying.
Beth loves to draw and to paint. As a child, she didn’t have access to paints, but when she started painting, it opened a world of color to her. Beth says the hardest thing for her as an artist is to find the inspiration. Once she has the inspiration and determines which direction to go, the fun begins. Often her completed works are far different from the original intent. She listens to music or stories to allow her unconscious brain to create without her conscious brain interfering.
She loves architecture and painting pictures of houses. Houses have their own personalities and the painting often becomes spiritual. She might have a visceral response to a house and the inspiration can come from an exterior or an interior of a house. Beth also loves people and landscapes, but doesn’t do abstract painting. Abstract art is completely from your brain, a little like a jazz musician creating on the fly.
Her personal challenge as an artist is to be freer and looser. Beth usually paints from a source, perhaps a photograph, because the mind won’t record things accurately. Lighting is everything in a painting and Beth works on that in all her works. Like all artists, Beth is an astute observer of life, and finds herself drawn to certain things that influence or release her creativity. Currently, Beth has accepted a commission to create a painting for a new Eagle Scout.
Beth says all artists create, no matter what, and they create from within themselves. The creating happens regardless of motivation, and allows the creative energy to be released. Any time Beth is creating it’s good for her and good for her soul. She knows things artists create become part of someone’s life, and Beth’s positive nature ensures her art will not make anyone sad. Her job as an artist is to say something about a subject that can’t be said any other way. Beth doesn’t talk about herself a lot – she prefers to have the visuals she creates do the work.
A goal Beth has is to find a piece of land where she can have a house and a studio, and host classes for all ages. She wants to create and teach and be sure everyone has access to art. Beth has been a welcome addition to the arts scene in Flower Mound.
Elizabeth Brannon serves on the Flower Mound Cultural Arts Commission.