I have been in between contracts with work, and while I am about to start a new one this week, I was taking the extra time I had last week to explore a drawing direction I wanted too follow. I took my older drawing style and gave it an update. Here are two of the larger pieces that I did.

I will say that make these have been a nice break. I love to draw and to feel the ink and paper. It is giving me a chance to explore white space and hints of color. Any time to push the boundaries of composition is great to take advantage of.

"Supernova" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"Supernova" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"we are all stardust" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"we are all stardust" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper



New Work Completed 07/2018

I have finished another piece in the Topography series. It is a mashup of a desert/mountain view sourced from satellite imagery. The panel pieces are coming on nicely. I am still finding out about how watercolors, inks, graphite, gesso, and water perform on the surface. Sometimes it can be a super pain in the ass to get the color saturation that I need. Each little rooftop block takes at least 4-5 coats of color then gesso then graphite (if I am adding specific definition). The last two pieces I added Interference Blue by Golden. It has a beautiful unicorn shimmer. The last piece I added it to the roadways and this piece I added it to the patterned background. It is super hard to get its affect in a photo as it looks like the wood is bare in some places, purple-y in other places, and dull in some places. But in person the effect is pretty great. This last piece made me feel like diving deeper into using patterns in unique ways against these landscapes, so this next piece will explore that more deeply. I am itching to get the next panel set up.

A couple of images:

Beth Ortman "The Containment of Water II" in progress

Beth Ortman "The Containment of Water II" in progress

Beth Ortman "The Containment of Water II" from the side

Beth Ortman "The Containment of Water II" from the side

The Containment of Water II by   ©Beth Ortman 07/2018

The Containment of Water II by ©Beth Ortman 07/2018


This animation and music mesmerized me

I saw this video and the music and animation style just made me sit so still to watch. I don't know why, but it really made me think of animation as something I should explore more. The beats and the use of music with the image, the totality of it. The subject of some planetary worship. The movement and it is all done in black and white. Check it out. What do you think?

Music by: Rone

Animation by: Dimitri Stankowicz


Good stuff. It wires your brain to create.


New Work Completed

In continuing with my satellite / modern landscape paintings, I have a new painting up on my website, "Desert Breezes Gated Community: Not Just Living, Living it Up". This ongoing topography focused series incorporates images of land use of suburban and manufacturing locations in desert, mountain, and shoreline terrain. What we live near, what resources we pull from and even some of the things that occur in nature that we refer to as "natural disasters", interest me and have been inspiring my landscape series from the last couple of years. I have just started using panels again for my paintings and I have really enjoyed working on the wood surface. I feel that the wood enhances my messaging and landscape implications.

Desert Breezes Gated Community: Not Just Living, Living it Up     12" x 12" | watercolor, ink, gesso, on wood panel   ©Beth Ortman 06/2018    

Desert Breezes Gated Community: Not Just Living, Living it Up

12" x 12" | watercolor, ink, gesso, on wood panel ©Beth Ortman 06/2018





Chairs & Cocktails: Gin & Sin

I love mid-century modern everything. The lines, the commitment to the design, the colors, and even the cheese. I have been doing an ongoing series of digital artworks of MCM chairs and then adding a mid-century cocktail to go with it. Who doesn't want a swanky and somewhat ridiculous cocktail on a chair of lines and presence?


Digital sketch of the “Malibu Chair” by William Haines Designs, circa 1950’s.
When a chair is a perfect welcome note for sinful behavior, you have to find the perfect lounging drink.

Sit back and sip the cocktail, Gin and Sin. And not without salt. What makes this chair and drink sing with sin? The lines? The overt “lounginess” of its width? It’s low slung height? And what about that drink? Slightly pink, a little salty, and oh, so very, very sweet. Serve it in a martini glass with care, if you dare, as it is surely going to spill onto that white fabric.

Gin and Sin ~ not without salt
1 1/2 oz gin
1 oz orange juice
1/2 tsp grenadine syrup
1 oz lemon juice
Add all sinful and sour ingredients to a shaker half-filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass, orr serve over ice. Either way you are on your way for a perfect lounge session.

Chat Bots, a Furby, and Going Easy On Yourself

I listened to a podcast on Radio Lab this weekend while I wrestled with my most recent painting. The podcast started with a live audience experiencing chat bots and trying to determine if they where "chatting" with a human or a bot. AI has come a long way and the purpose of the bots is to seamlessly hand off control from the "machine" doing the chatting to a "human" as the problem gets more complex or subject specific. As the podcast proceeded there was an interesting antidote about a Furby. Using the emotional response that a Furby has programed into its system, the tester thought that the same type of response could be used to detect a bot. That is a huge generalization, and it was an interesting segment as they interviewed a man that designed toys for a living.

What I want to get to is the segment where a reporter goes to interview a scientist and participate in a "virtual" session where he moves back and forth between himself and himself as a virtual Sigmund Freud, and himself as his virtual model. He was asked to think of a problem he was trying to solve and ask "Freud" for his advice. The problem he was mulling over was whether or not he did the right thing about leaving his mother, with dementia, in a facility in VA where she has many friends to visit her, or to move her to NY, where it was only him.

He asked his question as himself. The virtual room changes and he finds himself sitting as the virtual Freud, voice changed. He then becomes a Freud-like version of himself. As he sees his virtual self from "Freud's" perspective, he develops an overwhelming sense of compassion. The dialog goes back and forth and it culminates into his seeing his problem in a different light. He caught on that he was in a pattern of cyclical guilt brought about each time one of the people visiting his mother would send an email update. In a guilt infused state, he was constantly questioning his decision to leave her there.

As he relayed his experience in the podcast interview, he was still emotionally affected by this experience. It went beyond the seeing this issue in a different light, it went to a deeper level to seeing himself as a vulnerable human, struck with this guilt loop, trying to do the right thing. He walked away from the experience with not only a sense of ease over his decision, but also a deeper sense of being a human. This was done in a virtual environment.

Can we do this for ourselves and each other in our day to day real human lives? As we lose ourselves in our devices, can we look up more and at each other with a softer approach? We are doing what we can to figure things out, successes and failures.


Listen to the Radio Lab Podcast: More or Less Human -->


What's in the studio...

I wanted to share a couple of different things I have been working on.

New WIP, affectionately known as No. 88 (until I come across the title)

New WIP, affectionately known as No. 88 (until I come across the title)

I am digging the panels that I have been painting on. I have noticed that this one is even tighter than the last painting I did when it comes to the color squares. They represent the roofs of warehousing that are massive storage sites that sit in the middle of nowhere or on the edge of a community. The inspiration for these pieces are satellite images that show this mix and tension of nature and man.

Door Tour, Green Door: Palm Springs, CA

Door Tour, Green Door: Palm Springs, CA

This piece is done on the iPad. I have been playing with illustrations more, specifically digital illustrations, and I have been having a blast. I have also been using the Procreate time lapse feature to make little videos on their progress.

Check them out on my Instagram page -->

Alright, back to it and thanks for stopping by. Feel free to leave comments too - I always love getting feedback!


Ananda Hum :: I am Bliss

I started back into the meditation series from Deepak Chopra and Oprah. Specifically, I am doing the series from Gratitude. Day 3 inspired the following piece of art. This was the view from when I live in Pacific Palisades, CA with one of my mandalas superimposed on top. Nature inspires gratitude in me and the light right before the sun setting completely is such a magical time of day,

Ananda Hum | Beth Ortman Studio

Ananda Hum | Beth Ortman Studio

The following comes from the supporting text with the meditation series:

This mantra awakens the state of fulfillment that is your true self. Ananda is the inherent bliss, joy, and fulfillment of existence. Ananda Hum aligns your Being with this reality.

Process Shots

I want to show some of the process shots that I take as I create a piece. Taking quick photos of artwork unexpectedly helps with composition and color decisions. There is something that the camera does not pick up - maybe it is the micro marks and colors that we pick up - that helps pull me out of the "making" mode and into the "solving" mode.

Completed painting: "   A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

Completed painting: " A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

Once the primary area blocks were defined, I started adding the white gesso. I am find that using a panel instead of paper forces me to think of the white areas as the highlights. Normally with paper and water color mediums, the paper is the white. Kill the white and it kills the luminosty of the work. Immediately. And it sucks to have that happen.

Process for the painting: "   A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

Process for the painting: " A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

The images above show the topography mapping and then the build up of white. I am painting straight onto the panel, so the gesso sinks in and I have to build layers of white on white to get the luminosity. I can seal the whole panel when I am done. Painting on the wood without the sealant gives a nice affect when the color bleeds into the wood grain.

Process for the painting "   A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

Process for the painting " A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

I added the blocks of colors based on a grid, which I decided to highlight more. The mandala (inspired mandala) is then encircled with a pattern of more white, letting the wood be a major star of color, texture, and composition.

12" x 12" | watercolor, ink, gesso, graphite on wood panel | ©Beth Ortman 4/2018