Elizabeth Anfield has always been interested in both science and the arts. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, her father was a rocket scientist and her mother was an artist. Ms. Anfield received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Indiana University and went on to get her Master's in chemistry from UCLA. In 1978, she married a fellow scientist, Dr. R. Tom Baker and two years later their first child, Noah was born. Three years later their daughter, Anik was born and Ms. Anfield never went back to work in the sciences. Azeotropism was developed out of her love for chemistry and her understanding that different solvents would affect the character of the oil paints. Through experimentation, she has learned to control the various reactions exhibited by the paints and can use these reactions to create unique textures on the canvas.
While studying chemistry at Indiana, Ms. Anfield fell in love with the opera and studied music alongside chemistry. After her children were old enough to go to school, she began a career at the opera. She often did scenic artistry as well as singing, producing and stage managing. Ms. Anfield studied voice in New York City and it was there that she met and visited the studio of Russian master Mikhail Turovsky who had at the time just finished an incredible cycle of paintings concerning the Holocaust. Ms. Anfield was so impressed with his portrayal of emotion that she began to help him promote this cycle of paintings. In return for this help, Mr. Turovsky agreed to teach Ms. Anfield to draw and eventually encouraged her to give up music and pursue painting full time. She agreed and became an apprentice in the Turovsky studio, studying drawing for the first four years and adding painting the last three. Over these seven years the small Turovsky school made several art pilgrimages to Toledo, Venice, St. Tropez and Paris and Elizabeth learned how necessary it is for an artist to be always improving their technique and expanding their subject matter. This led to her penchant for landscapes and the development of azeotropism. Since leaving Turovsky's studio, she has developed a process that allows her to brighten azeotropic paintings and has begun painting animals as well.
After ten years in New York, Ms. Anfield moved to the Santa Fe area in 1996 and has continued to pursue painting in New Mexico. She has participated in both group and one woman exhibitions in and around Santa Fe. Continuing to develop azeotropism, Ms. Anfield endeavors to create paintings that are filled with tender colors and poetic subjects.
New Mexico, New York
Landscape, Still Life, Figural, Azeotropism
Mikhail Turovsky, NYC, NY: 1986 - 1996
2008, Robert Bell 100 Santa Fe Etchers, 200 pages
2007, Elizabeth Anfield Elizabeth Anfield - Portrait of Azeotropisim, 100 pages (color)
National Museum for Women in the Arts
As absolute pitch defines a true musician so an absolute sense of color defines a true painter. Betsy Anfield has an astoundingly acute sense of color and painterly tone. This singular quality places her among the ranks of the great painters of all time. She seems to not only see color but to hear it as well, and this imbues her paintings
with a truly musical quality. She has a poetic vision. The subjects which she explores are landscape, still life and the human figure.
Whether flowers or fruits or the buildings and towers and streets of cities, the forms which inhabit her work seem to rise, as though formed by the primordial materiality of paint.
In the history of western art the depiction of maternal love and attachment to the child is a long and well explored tradition. Betsy Anfield explores a subject almost entirely absent in the history of art, that of the man and child. In her painitngs it is men who hold infants in their arms. These are depictions of paternal responsibility, of paternal intimacy, tenderness, and profound love.
I have always been fascinated by the fluidity of oil painting and the fact that oil paints can be built up in layers to create more complicated hues and dimension. When we paint skin tones we know that we must build up layers of colors because skin itself is a multilayered organ and yet we are able to see through it. I have tried to create this same type of layering in my paintings. Each of my paintings begins with a charcoal drawing which is then painted with three colors dissolved in turpentine. Each color is used to distinguish distance in the drawing, similar to the way the old Masters often first painted their drawings with shades of gray to understand the light before moving on to colors. Following this example, this first layer is allowed to dry completely. Then the layering of paints dissolved in linseed oil begins. Turpentine is pulled through these oil layers allowing the paints to retract and create their own patterns on the canvas. After these layers have been allowed to dry, several layers of paints and glazes mixed in the traditional way are used to reestablish the drawing which was in the first layer. When people look at these paintings, they usually comment that they feel they are looking through layers of paint which is precisely what they are doing. The paints have been allowed to mingle into layers in such a way that even I cannot duplicate these paintings exactly. Years of experimentation have taught me what to expect when I put these layers onto the canvas. Sometimes the pigments will come out of solution, sometimes the paints retract, revealing the layer underneath, sometimes the paints blend together, sometimes the paints create a splatter pattern on the painting and sometimes they create a wrinkled skin layer. These are just some of the possibilities available using this new technique which I call azeotropism.
As a colorist it is very important to understand which colors work best in the bottom layers and which colors can be used in the top layers. I have found that colors mixed with white give a very interesting milky quality if they are applied in the oil layers only. Blacks and dark blue pigments can be dropped out of solution by dissolving them in turpentine and spraying them into the semi-wet oil layer, thus giving the painting an overall dark speckled appearance. The darker paintings represent the beginnings of azeotropism, and it has taken me several years to figure out how to brighten up the technique into the landscapes and still lives we see today.