Adn'l Study, Penland School of Arts and Crafts
Adn'l Study, Institute of Art, San Miquel de Allende Mexico
Betsy Carmichael believes that it is important for art students to spend time outside, and the Baylor campus--landscapes, buildings, water--is an extraordinary outdoor studio. With the 1998 opening of the Fine Arts Center, the indoor studios are impressive as well. (Carmichael's classroom, with windows on three sides, overlooks the Tennessee River.) Now, she says, students have a sharper sense that their work is serious and important.
In a typical semester Carmichael teaches five different classes: Art Foundations, Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, and Advanced Placement Studio Art. The AP class meets for a year , and students prepare a portfolio of forty pieces. Half of the work demonstrates the students' range of skills: the ability to draw representationally, work with three-dimensional form, use color theory expressively, and so on. The other half shows a concentration (in pastels, for example).
Whatever class she is teaching, Carmichael gives students options so that each person can develop his or her own style. For example, when she teaches landscape painting, she presents not only the direct painting method but also explains glazing and impasto. The result is that her students' works "rarely look alike."
Growing up in Sparta, Tennessee, Carmichael admired "older women who did things." She was particularly impressed by two aunts with adventurous spirits who, during World War II, taught workers how to assemble airplane engines and ended up living in Bangkok and Saigon.
Carmichael, too, loves to see new places. She backpacked and camped throughout her college years, taught in South Carolina, and led frequent canoe trips during the six years that she was the only full-time member of McCallie's art department. Active in Baylor's Walkabout program, she is a regular on the ninth grade and senior trips and for several summers has been a participant on the Colorado trip. She has twice been to Belize with Baylor groups, and one summer, with the late Liz Aplin, she took a group of students to Florence, Italy. In 1988 Carmichael received a Lyndhurst grant to live in San Miguel, Mexico, and study the Mexican muralists. She has also spent summers at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts doing landscape drawings in the Smokies.