Betty Carroll Fuller believes that paintings are not simply to be viewed; they are to be experienced. As she says, “I try to capture the essence, not the image.”
Fuller’s paintings testify to life’s moments—good coffee, a colorful weed, an unexpected storm—in vivid abstract strokes. She primarily works in oil, but often laces her art with materials such as gold leaf, glitter, and found objects. The Falmouth resident also works in acrylics, which she applies to birch panels, sometimes cutting them to shape.
Her colors are seductive and strong, hues meaty enough to carry a particular feeling or emotion. As Fuller says, “Something might look blue but feel yellow to me.” She often uses poetic or musical metaphors to describe painting; she particularly loves a quote from the writer Kofi Natambu, who described jazz musician Miles Davis as “blowing blue holes through a red sky.”
Behind the emotion is a studied work style. “I try to combine good draftsmanship and technical skill with abstraction,” Fuller says. The language of her canvas may be a bit esoteric for some, but her many fans have no trouble interpreting it. The soft colors and shapes of Spring Thaw perfectly bespeak the experience of
seeing nature’s annual awakening. Perfect Summer Day captures that exquisite peak of color and form in the high season on Cape Cod.
Fuller once tried working in a different style, which lasted one painting. “People say ‘you don’t do realism,’” she remarks. “I did one of lilies and I felt so dead. My daughter really liked lilies, so I wanted to do one for her. It didn’t feel real. You can’t understand a lily unless you know how it smells.”
When Fuller is not painting, she teaches art at Cape Cod Community College and is the director and curator of the college’s Higgins Art Gallery. But for Fuller, painting is not a choice—it’s a given. “For artists, it’s like breathing,” she says. “You get lost in it. You have this need to go to that space and make things; it’s an empirical demand to make things.”