The details are fuzzy. We can make out the good-natured glow of a tiny crosswalk man in the painting’s left corner, who assures us it’s safe to proceed, still, something doesn’t feel right. Two distinct human figures are centered in the street scene. It’s unclear what they’re doing, but the digital looking date and time in the left hand corner suggest it can’t be good. The title, “Attack” puts us further on edge, but can we really be sure of what’s occurring between these people? “I completely trust my instinct,” says painter William Betts in regard to his work. But when we stare into the dynamics of his paintings, can we trust ours?
The visual impact is intense, to say the least. Thousands of perfectly stacked stripes adorn each painting. It’s 2004 and William is showing his first body of work—the line paintings. They’re flawless in their layered color spectrums, causing one to question whether a human hand could have possibly applied this paint. It couldn’t. Certainly others have created line paintings in the past, but William took the concept and pushed it to its furthest extreme. “There’s no printer out there that can do that,” says Denver’s Plus Gallery owner Ivar Zeile, who was one of the first exhibiting William’s work outside of his regular market. Ivar is right, no printer is capable of applying fresh paint in such exquisite detail either. William’s method is one factor that set him apart in the beginning, and now. He created a machine that applies paint to canvas in a way that could only have been conceived by William himself.
His Arizona State University degree in painting sat on the shelf for several years while William, who was born in New York, landed in Houston in the energy software business. By the end of his nearly 10-year career he was conducting his company’s entire software operation. Eventually, as in all careers, the ride came to a lull and started slowing down long enough for William to see ahead in the distance. He decided to hop off. Not being able to imagine his life without painting, at last he picked up a brush and sat down at the easel. He painted using the traditional techniques he’d learned, but quickly came to an unsettling conclusion.
“This is so boring,” he thought, remembering well the times he was chucked from elementary school classrooms due to his elusive attention span. Feeling that he couldn’t simply walk away from the decade worth of life experience he’d acquired in software, William made a powerful choice. He went to work developing software that could interface between a machine, paint and his own artistic decisions. The results were incredible.
Read the full article by Eleanor Perry Smith at Modern in Denver