Anyone who knows Beth Zink likely conjures up an image of a bright blue prickly pear cactus set against an orange backdrop or vibrant fuchsia cactus flowers that span the entire canvas. Indeed, her name has become synonymous with color and the desert, and it’s what attracts people the world over to her energetic depictions of the Southwest.

You may not guess it from looking at her work, but Beth grew up on the East Coast in Rhode Island. That’s where she first fell in love with art and where she studied it in all of its various forms––acrylic, oil, watercolor, and even sculpture. But when she moved out West in the 80s, she was instantly captivated by the cacti and Arizona sunsets––it was unlike anything she’d ever experienced before.

Naturally, these started to become the subjects of her paintings. But it wasn’t until one day she decided she was tired of painting with the traditional colors one might use to depict a cactus. So, she picked up a tube of orange and got to work experimenting.

She shipped it off to the gallery her work was showing in at the time, not knowing how it would be received. Lo and behold, the experiment paid off. The piece sold in near record time. So, she tested it again. And when that piece flew off the wall, Beth knew she was on to something.

Now, decades later, Beth still loves experimenting with a bold color palette and capturing the natural beauty of the desert.

Read on or watch the video below to learn more about Beth, what she loves most about creating art and how she keeps herself challenged.

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When did you know art was your calling?

I learned it from my elementary school art teacher back in Rhode Island when she told my mother I had a gift. I knew I liked to draw, but I didn’t know I was better than anyone else.

After that, I was allowed to major in art in college because of the encouragement that I received from my teachers in high school and elementary school. So, I experimented with oil, acrylic, watercolor, sculpture––all media––and I just really enjoyed acrylic because it dried quickly so I could move faster through the painting and I could work large. I experimented with watercolor and oil too, but acrylic has always been my favorite.

How did you develop your unique style?

It seems like I’ve always been drawn to nature, generally, as opposed to figurative art or still life. I experimented on all of them, but I love the outdoors. I love nature. Flowers, mountains, clouds, the sky, sunsets…I love painting all of that. When we moved to Arizona in 1986, I fell in love with the desert because I’d grown up back East. The cactus was so bizarre. The plants are like sculptures. I love it all.

How has your work evolved?

I recall painting pretty natural colors until one day I was so sick of green that I literally saw a tube of orange that I rarely use and I painted a prickly pear cactus in orange instead of green. I was in a gallery at the time, and it sold really quickly. I thought, okay, well I’m going to try a purple agave. So, I was just being silly, being crazy, and it sold really well. It was just a fluke.

How do you keep yourself challenged?

I’m always looking for new subjects within the realm of nature. I realized in the last year or two that I love taking pictures of sunsets and clouds, but those are very challenging to paint, more so than a cactus flower or a landscape. So, even just moving around to different subjects, they all present new challenges.

What do you love most about the creative process?

It takes your mind on a little vacation. It’s very relaxing because you’re concentrating so much on how to mix a certain color or how to paint that shape that you’re not thinking about anything else in your life. The creative process is therapeutic, it’s relaxing. I just get lost in it. My husband accuses me of being out in my studio, starting in the morning, painting and being in my jammies, and all of a sudden it’s time to think about dinner.

The most rewarding aspect of it is having someone come into your studio or the Celebration of Fine Art, see your work, fall in love with it, take it home, and hang it in their home and live with it. It makes me happy to paint it. It makes them happy to have it in their home. It’s just a wonderful relationship that an artist has. Not only do we create it for ourselves, but then someone else falls in love with it and they pay you for it and then they live with it and it becomes part of their life. The relationship you have with your collectors is like none other.

What brings you back to the Celebration of Fine Art?

I love the camaraderie with the other artists. I love that it’s a place for so many more people to see my work than they would anywhere else. It’s just a really wonderful experience.