Betty J.Billups

Betty, your work is wonderful regardless of size. You have the "artist's eye", married with natural talent that you were blessed with at birth, excellent training, great skill, and mastery of the brush and paint. Each painting reflects these things. You cannot go wrong!! Your work is truly beautiful!!
Kris Ellen Jenott

Capturing the inner feeling, a moment so quickly passing,
a moment that is beyond words, almost beyond thought, the nuances that dance between a mountain
and the sky that embraces her, creating a symphony that the eyes perceive, but only the soul can remember.

This celebration of light upon the physical and ethereal worlds, that creates a love affair, not only between these two worlds, but also for the viewer.

It is this special moment in time that excites me, that drives me to even risk failure if I but have the chance
to capture only a fraction of what I see, of what I feel, of what I know, from this wonderful experience we call life!

In art, as music, there are rhythms, movements, flow and ebb..."

Betty Jean Billups

"The power and sweep of this unique style of Betty Billups is comparable with the leading painters of our century and before.

The strength of her painting strokes combine masterfully with her extraordinary command of the artist's color palette.

Bold and yet thoughtful use of composition yields a freshness and depth to these works that is seldom seen in many of today's works of art.

A dynamic & electrically charged must see exhibit combining a dazzling explosion of artistic energy & sparkling creativity."

Tom Battles
referring to Clymer and Hockaday Museum Exhibitions

"I would like to strongly recommend the artistic talents of Betty Billups.
For several years I have visited many local art galleries
and shows in the northern Idaho area.
Betty is clearly the premier artist of the area
and indeed enjoys a national reputation, with her work
displayed in many galleries and museums across the country.

We are the fortunate owners of several of Betty's pieces.
The largest was a commissioned mural in several pieces
depicting Schweitzer Mountain from the lake.
We brought the piece for $7200 and enjoy it immensely.
I would very strongly recommend her for any commissions.

Roger E. Bosley, M.D.
Sandpoint, Idaho
Battle Ground, Indiana


If you are interested in organizing a workshop in your area...
"JUST" do what the movie said: "if you get the students,
she will come!"

Tho Billups paints in a rather looser impressionistic style, she is still aware of great art being expressed in other approaches.

One artist that you might find great insight from, is
Robert Walton ( )

...who, as a young man, use to climb the coastal range of mountains, around Seattle Washington.

Today, he creates wonderful wilderness paintings of the same coastal mountains, and going as far south as the Teton range in Wyoming.

The major difference with Walton's work and 98% of plein air painters:
plein air painters, paint what they SEE, and make decisions on what they "feel" as to what they capture in paint.
Whereas Walton is a "studio artist"...
and has at most, only a "snap shot" of a mountain range, the remainder of his painting,
is from memory, feelings and passion! You can practically
walk into his creations of the northern wilderness!

Robert Walton and Billups, teach workshops,
(he in the studio, Billups "en plein air") when you take their combined workshop,
you get the best of both worlds!
If you are interested, write and inquire!

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BIO OF ARTISTBetty J.Billups
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Whenever I start a major figurative piece, or even a studio still life or landscape, I never leave the studio, until it is finished, which might be better than a week!!

But this creation was the exception! While working on it I received word that my Father was in the hospital.

Both my brother and I arrived in Virginia, and together with our mother decided to take Dad off life support. His brain had gone too long with out oxygen, and thus brain dead.

We had him brought home (a home that had been in Dad's family since 1663...50 years before Washington was born!) Dad and I were extremely close in life as also during these last days! Some where I had read, a human cannot live much longer than 7 days without water: the body will eventually poison itself. So, I sat with him thru out each day, and slept on top of the stacked double beds, so he would never be alone, on the final journey.

I would massage his hands and arms with lotion, and just talk softly, so he knew I was close by. At one point, I leaned over to kiss him on the forehead, and told him "I'd be right back". Due to the breathing apparatus in the hospital, his mouth was never closed again. But when I kissed him he puckered his lips to kiss me back, and then his mouth sprung back open! Another time, I mentioned that I knew his greatest heart ache in the world (for HIS ears only!), and when I said that, his mouth once again, closed, but in at the saddest grimace...not wanting me to know what his greatest hurt had been!

So, if YOU are ever with a loved one who is passing, KNOW that they can still hear you, they just may not be able to respond!

Which now brings me back to this painting. When I returned home, and returned to this painting, something kept hitting me deep inside. I could not figure it out! BUT, as it came to completion, I was finally able to understand what it was!

I have never done a figurative, where one figure is definitely NOT looking at us, the viewer...while the other figure IS LOOKING DIRECTLY AT THE VIEWER!! And I finally got the MESSAGE: The front figure which is 100% in OUR view, represented my Dad's physical body, while the figure behind (not seen totally) represent his SOUL! And one more measure to the message: What I understand, in the Oriental belief, the SOUL is represented by the color RED!

And thus the reason for the title of this painting: BEYOND WORDS! And the original hangs to this day, over the bed in the master bedroom!! Thank you for allowing me to share this!!

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BIO OF ARTISTBetty J.Billups
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While living in Southern California, back in the late '70s, Betty fired some models and they visited the Southern California Mission that her parents had been married at: San Juan Capistrano...for an afternoon photo shoot.

Almost all of her Hispanic creations were captured at this time. Over the years, Billups were find wonderful articles of clothing; she was only interested in the color WHITE! Yes, I hear you, "white is not a color"...but it is, if you look closely, white reflects all the colors around it!!

This creation of a mother and daughter is a simple color capture, subtle enough to involve the viewer!! Hope you enjoy it!!

Mural -In-A- DayToppenish, Washington -BIO OF ARTISTBetty J.Billups
Mural -In-A- Day
Toppenish, Washington

Regarding "Plein Air Painting in the USA"

When Plein Air Painters of America (PAPA)

was created in 1987, by Denise Burns, she asked Billups to create ONE ad, to start a group of artists, called Plein Air Painters of America (PAPA). Billups talked Denise into allowing her to set up an ad campaign, that involved creating monthly ads in the top art magazines of that decade, which included Southwest Art, Art of the West, Art West, American Art Review, Artists of the Rockies, and Art Talk, to name a few.

The results of Billups' ad campaign for those 10 years ('85 thru '95), promoting "plein air painting", has created the plein air movement that has swept throughout the USA, with literally thousands of plein air groups springing up every where!!

Since those first ten years, PAPA has attracted other nationally known artists such as: Matt Smith, Skip Whitcomb, Gay Faulkenberry, Ken Auster, Christopher Blossom, John Cosby, Gil Dellinger, Don Demers, West Fraser, Joe Paquet, Ray Roberts.

Montana Historical Society Helena Montana

In the summer of 1977, Elizabeth Jean Billups (AKA Betty or Betty Jean) had her first one artist museum show at the Montana Historical Society in Helena, primarily exhibited Billups' "plein air paintings", and other creations!
This exhibit was the direct results of doing research for a U.S. Army commission that she received, to create a painting of Sacajawea. And this commission came about because the Army had seen a painting Billups had in the U.S. Air Force Art Collection. The painting was called "The Nightingale", and depicted the C-9, a medical plane.

The exhibit at the museum was titled "Inner Feelings" and was the sole reason Betty returned to a fine art career, with the heaviest amount of work being created "en plein air".
Plein Air painting is created on location, with all the elements: sun, wind, tides, and time, affecting that which is being depicted in a painting...thus forcing the artist to work quickly and order to capture the essence of a scene, before, and even while, it changes!

The trip into Idaho and Montana at that time, also brought her back years later, to live on a 200 + acre ranch, and eventually move into the mountains, to a tutor style cabin on 10 acres in the wilderness. Being surrounded by nature at every view, doing plein air paintings became almost as easy as breathing!

From 1985 thru 1995, Billups participated in the Plein Air Painters of America (PAPA) week of creating plein air creations on Catalina Island, and then exhibiting these paintings at the Casino Ballroom. The reputation of this fine group grew with the added efforts of Billups being their Ad Chairman for the first ten years of the groups existence. (And since then, they have not had a continuing ad campaign!)

1996 saw Billups as one of a dozen artists invited to work on the world renown Murals in Toppenish Washington. She was personally commissioned to create 17 windows depicting a turn of the century bordello, viewed in a second story historic brick building

She has been one of twelve artists, that has been chosen to be one of the "Quick Draw Artists" who create finished paintings, in a given 40 minutes, that are auctioned, and benefit the C.M.Russell Museum. One of the four years that she received this honor, her creation of a Louis and Clark buck skinner went for $1600.

Mount San Antonio College Mural

In 2007 she was commissioned to create a 6x16 foot mural for Mount San Antonio College
, in Southern California. The entire landscape of the mural was created "en plein air", the clouds were brought to life, using 15 different cloud studies that had been created over the years (also created "en plein air"). The foreground Eucalyptus trees were created from 3 weeks of photographic research.

As a direct result of this Mt. SAC mural, she was offered a one artist exhibition, JEWELS OF COLOR, which show case (can be viewed on this web site).

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BIO OF ARTISTBetty J.Billups
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Joseph & Danica Henninger -BIO OF ARTISTBetty J.Billups
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Joseph & Danica Henninger


Because of the great influence that her instructors had on Betty's life, she also has spent her career sharing information to "wanna-be-artists", and so, this web site on the majority of the pages, there are thoughts on art principles, ideas, suggestions... in short, this is really a teaching site!!

One of her most beloved instructors from the prestigious Los Angeles
Art Center College of Design, located at that time on Highland and just east of 3rd Street, was Joseph Morgan Henninger. He and his beloved wife, Danica, became Betty's life time art and personal supporters and friends.

Another instructor from LAACCD, was a very dear and caring artist-teacher, Reynold Brown, who did many of the old Movie Posters of renown, like Ben Hur. Reynold greatly influenced Billups with his passion and concern for his students...and gave them the "burn" to go beyond what they believed they possibly could! Reynold and his beloved wife Mary Louise became greatly loved and cherished personal friends of the artist. With Reynold's passing, Mary Louise and Betty have remained in close contact over the years...and Mary Louise herself has returned to the fine art field with great creations of her own!

Also at the Los Angeles Art Center of Design, she studied with Don Putt Putman, who introduced her to the magnificent world of color! And his enthusiasm and passion for painting sparked the soul of adventure in her!

Ten years after graduating from ACCD, she finally met Dan McCaw, whose work she had admired since the mid 70s. When she first came to study with Dan, she mentioned a painting he had done back in'77 that she had seen at the Pepper Tree Show...that she drooled her surprise that same painting had just been shipped back to Dan's studio!! And is now in Billups collection!!!

The years of study with Dan at his studio greatly enhanced her style, which had always been rather loose.
For years, every gallery she was in, encouraged her to "tighten up" so they could sell her work. She wouldn't, being true to what was in her heart...that which is observed in her work today, both in the studio and with her plein air paintings.
Then finally around the mid '70s, "A Day in the Country",
a major museum exhibition caused a major influence with American artists:
to loosen up!!! Finally, her work became more acceptable!!!

Her main influences (taken from history)include the Spanish painter Sorolla, Corot, Monet, Monet, Turner, Corot, Van Gogh, as well as the early California Impressionists and colorists such as Franz Bischoff, Edgar Payne, Granville Redmond, and Guy Rose, and others, the Oaklnad Society of Six, the Canadian landscapists known as the Group of Seven.

Billups, the winner of Grand Purchase Awards and blue ribbons in national and international shows, has been featured in many art magazines throughout her career, including Southwest Art, U.S. Art, Art talk, Sun Storm Publications, Art West, InformArt, to name a few.
The subjects depicted dealt with her Native American, her Women in White series, and her plein air paintings

The year 2002 also found her work in a museum publication, coinciding with her one artist exhibition: Clymer Museum: 200 for 2000, a 24 page, full color catalogue of some of her plein air paintings, that were created in the year 2000. (retails for $20, on this web site...less than 60 copies left!)

With late spring 2002, in conjunction with her up coming one artist museum show (Hockaday Museum of Art, Kalispell MT), another 32 page color catalogue will be available, of a collection of most of the 35 plein air paintings she created during her Artist in Residence at Glacier National Park . It also will be an 8 1/2 x 11 format.

2004 her still life ORANGES AND PEONIES was included in the publication: "How did you paint that? 100 ways to paint Flowers & Gardens"Published by

2004 her plein air painting RIVER REFLECTIONS was included in the publication: "How did you paint that? 100 ways to paint Seascapes, Rivers & Lakes"

May 2004 her painting "I Am the Sunlight" received a 3rd Place Award in an International Competition.

August 2005 was the unveiling of her first large (96 pages in full color) publication that is a part of a series on 10 Projects You Can Paint, published by International Artist Publications. The title to her creation is:

10 Projects in Impressionism En Plein Air

This publication was the first the publisher had created en plein air, and has been sold out since 2006, however Billups still has a few signed copies available from her web site.

At this same time, she was offered a full hard bound edition of her work that was to include landscape, figuratives, floral, & drawings....similar to the Dan McCaw book that International Art Publishers had created. However, when she asked to be paid for the 10 Projects book (only $2000 for 6 months of work), the publisher decided not to pursue the hard bound copy!

In the mid 90s she helped jury the annual prestigious California Art Clubs' Exhibit, with her friend, Neil Boyle and her beloved instructor, Joseph Henninger. The difficulty was watching, as some categories with only seven entries had six awards handed out, and then one category with over 200 entries, having the same six many wonderful images, not being able to acknowledge them in the process.
Prior to that, she had juried many California exhibitions, giving awards to abstracts and sculptures, applying the same knowledge and principles needed in creating two dimensional as well as 3 dimensional art. She has also been invited to jury water color organizations, since she juries based on principles, and not her person style or media.

Along with Joseph Henninger, she totally agrees that art should not be "juried" in the first place. If so, only to create a "minimum standard of performance", that is, what level of accomplishment a show should exhibit. Cream rises to the top, and to pick one painting over another, is almost insane! That would be like going to a major museum, and declaring that one of Velazquez's paintings was "superior" to another one, or to choose who is the "better" painter: Homer, Degas or Levitan. Jurying is more a statement regarding the juror, then it is a statement about the art being reviewed!

Her work hangs in collections throughout the U.S., Canada, Israel, Africa, and Japan. Some of these collections also are the home of Picassos, Henry Sharps, and other leading contemporary artists of the U.S. Some of the public collections include: The Royal Palms Hotel of Phoenix AZ (who own 4 of her plein air paintings); the United States Air Force; Alamita Corporation of Tucson AZ (Native American painting), Mount San Antonio College of Southern CA, to name a few. Of the private collections, most enjoy many of her plein air paintings, with scatterings of her studio works.

In addition to the Marriott Hotels, some of her clients include Bank of America, Fluor Corporation, Max Factor, Knotts Berry Farm, Genstar Mortgage and St. John's Hospital of Santa Monica, California.

C.M.Russell Auction Quick Draw Artist -BIO OF ARTISTBetty J.Billups
C.M.Russell Auction
Quick Draw Artist

Her creations have been in prestigious galleries over the past 40+ years:
Thru out California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, & Montana. Also in Scottsdale and Sedona AZ; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; Richmond, VA;
Easton Maryland and Lexington, KY.



graduated with honors



OF LOS ANGELES 1972-1976

Sole Designer for the 1974 ILLUSTRATION WEST Catalogue.



The "PLEIN AIR MOVEMENT" that is thru out the USA today, was created by the ads Billups designed for PAPA from 1987 thru 1995...the word "plein air" had NOT BEEN used in the USA since the 1920s!!




Pat Dufrain celebrating with meat the Death Valley Show,with the Artist's Artist Award -BIO OF ARTISTBetty J.Billups
Pat Dufrain celebrating with me
at the Death Valley Show,
with the Artist's Artist Award

Because nothing ever came easy to her, not even her art (which is obvious by such ignorant questions, such as "What color makes flesh?" that she presented to her art teachers in the "early days"). There is a difference between being IGNORANT and being STUPID: IGNORANT is what almost every body anything but their field of expertise! STUPID, is having knowledge, and not applying it!!

Billups firmly believes: "...what most people label "talent," is really DESIRE, or BURN, or DREAMS, or VISION, or GOAL SETTING or PASSION or WHATEVER you would like to call "IT" PLUS a lot of work and continuous effort toward the end of recognition and accomplishment... but NOT in THAT order!!!
No one is just born to it, but this "talent" develops with hard work, study, focus, desire, time, passion, belief in oneself, and above all else, picking oneself up by the boot straps, if knocked down: emotionally, financially or by any other means! By the way, did I mention HARD WORK?"

She believes the words TALENT and LUCK are used too often in the wrong context. And when they are used in referring to a person's goals and life time achievements, or just writing off these to AGING and TIME (alone) causing them to happen...what robbery! What a sadness, that these people thought it was "happenstance" that brought about the results, be it on the canvas or in the business of marketing that creation.


And that is why Betty has a tremendous burn to share the knowledge she gleaned over the past 43+ years with anyone who truly desires to be able to express themselves. Because without her instructors:
Arnold Simone, Sister Francis Margaret, Fr. Frank Torres, Reynold Brown, Joseph Henninger, Richard Huebner, Lorser Feitleson, Midge Quinnel, Don Green, Rod de la Cruz, Charley Susuki, Andy Fagan, Mildred Walker, Bluske, Polifca and her husband Flury, Mr. Ted Youngkin, Harry Carmean, Glenn Villpu, Don "Putt" Putman, Ted Lukats, Hal Kramer, William F. Reese, Dan McCaw, Sergei Bongart
...and all the others who took time from their careers, to physically share their knowledge (not to mention ALL artists, living and dead, in written publications) who have influenced most living artists today.

Without all of them, we would still be doing cave paintings!! (Or we would be VERY OLD, gathering all this info, on our own!)

Billups doesn't know why SO MANY artists (including her "younger self") have this excessive NEED to be "self taught"...there are artists and galleries who claim this ...Unless an artist lived in a cave and NEVER saw or talked to another artist and/or saw their work, Billups does not believe ANY one can be truly self taught, in this day and age!

And those artists who claim not having any "formal education" (like "art school"), and thus claim being "self taught", yet have studied with any leading or accomplished artist, actually has it far better than any "art student", since they probably received undivided attention of their mentor, unlike art students who have to share the instructors time with 30 other students. So, can anyone claim to be "self taught"? Billups really doubts it!

PLEIN AIR PAINTING WORKSHOPS: If you are interested in organizing a workshop in your area..."JUST" do what the movie did: "if you get the students together, she will come!"

All contents & image are copyrighted by Elizabeth Jean Billups. All rights reserved worldwide, and may not be used for profit, published or reproduced in any form without written permission.

Since she has designed this as a "teaching" site, primarily for plein air painters, if you are studying art, making copies to study from, or copying the actual art work, be sure to mark your art work: "Taken from an image by Betty Jean Billups."

Throughout history, and even today in Europe, artists learn the most from "copying", actually setting up in front of the masters in many museums, and working, to understand the thinking behind the creation. One must not enter shows, or sell as originals anything created as the direct result of copying any work seen on this site, be it studio work or her plein air paintings. (To date, I have already found some artists who have copied my work, and had them exhibiting in galleries. This is very unprofessional, not to mention, illegal.)

To realize that the word "PLEIN AIR" PAINTING, had NOT been used in the USA, since the 1920s, until Denise Burns created the FIRST PLEIN AIR GROUP back in '87, and the national ad campaign, set up by Billups, and supported by the original membership!
Plein air painting has reached such a height of interest today, that almost every art group, in any city thru out the USA, has a plein air painting group!! AND, there are several PLEIN AIR PAINTING MAGAZINES, in the USA...

THAT is what strong advertising will create!!

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