Sharing the Joy of Color  

Beth Crews Rommel


In the third floor studio overlooking the garden Beth Rommel paints.

Over the years her various studios have been in garden settings. Her most current studio is in Decatur, Georgia, a perfect place to watch the changes of season in the Maple trees, Camellias, and Azaleas.

Prior to moving to Georgia the glass wall of her studio in Oviedo, Florida was a window on the world of tropical plants, orchids, lizards, snakes, and wild turkeys.

In San Antonio she could see Live Oak trees and her children playing on the tire swing she had painted  just for them.

Born and raised in New Orleans Rommel was introduced to art by parents who loved museums and gallery trips. Her K-12school encouraged the arts, where she learned to throw clay pots with potter Phyllis May and where she was taught patience and attention to detail by Helen Trivigno, gifted Romanian enamel artist. “Mrs. Trivigno instructed me to work on one large pencil drawing for several weeks. All pencil strokes had to go in the same direction. What discipline that was. I was 15 years old and had no idea how valuable patience would prove to be.”

While living in New Orleans the Crews family would pack the car each Friday night and leave the formality of the old city for the farm life. An hour and a half drive would take them to Folsom, Louisiana to an old house with cats and dogs, cows and chickens, ducks and horses, quilts and barns. The family gathered eggs, rode horses, herded cattle, and rode in a jeep learning about rural agricultural life. Having lived in so many different cities this is the home Rommel holds dear; there was tranquility, love, friends, and family.

The old television set at “the farm” had poor reception so Rommel and her sister would pass time by creating art exhibits for their parents to view on Saturday evenings. Drawings were created throughout the day, leis were sewn with Tung tree blossoms,  and the bedroom walls were transformed into a gallery.

Rommel graduated with a B.F.A. in Studio Art with an emphasis in Communication Design from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville after two years at the University of Texas in Austin. This prepared her for a career in advertising and public relations while she moved with her family throughout Texas and to Florida.

All of this time she continued painting and taking commissions. An old friend in San Antonio decided to end her own foray into painting and gifted her brightly colored acrylics to Rommel. This dramatically changed the palette she had been using. New hues of pink, green, and blue moved into the paint box nudging out the brown and more somber tones.

With small children at home she developed an interest in children’s literature and illustration. As a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) she wrote and illustrated her own stories for young readers. Melvin Fine Mouse: First Day of School, a rhyming story, is for the youngest reader.

Rommel’s sense of joy and playfulness has been evident in her painting at all times.

While living in Florida she painted flying people in patterned clothing watching the world below. Often evident in the scenery was a bit of a farm: a barn, cows grazing, or plowed fields. Time spent in the western United States, where her parents were raised, taught Rommel about American Indian culture and folk tales. There are references to this throughout her work: storyteller figures, purple mountains, western flowers. The detailed patterns in these earlier works comes from her love of  Oriental rugs, wallpapers, and fashion design.

Rommel’s painting career has incorporated the use of oils and acrylics and in 2015 a sojourn into watercolors.

“Each material is special and offers different qualities. I had never taken the time to learn how to use watercolors so I set out to paint with them every day for 100 days. The exercise was so enjoyable I continued to day 156.” Most paintings were sold as they were completed.

Inspired by the routine Rommel completed a 30-day series of guardians.

After the passing of her mother in early 2016 Rommel was in a serious car accident where her car was forced off the highway by a large truck. The car flipped back over front leaving her and her husband trapped in their now battered Subaru on a Memorial Day in Satsuma, Louisiana. With a broken sternum and ribs, and time to think, Rommel  thought through her options. She chose a series based on  photos of family from the 1930-40s.

While creating this series Rommel began experimenting with new techniques that combined the chalk-like flat appearance of latex paint with the boldness of acrylics. Layering the two brought a nice depth of color. Adding pastels and charcoal defined shapes without heaviness. This last layer was wonderful for experimentation in line placement.

Presently Rommel is enjoying painting the beauty of flowers in an interior scene while often including elements from the out of doors.

 “My studio is my haven. It is a place where I can safely view the world in all of its disarray. I love being outside at night, but feel a bit of unease with what I cannot see. Who or what is rustling the leaves. Who or what is watching me? “

These new paintings are joyful, smiling views of a home on the inside, yet  lonely and quiet on the outside.

“I have been alone a lot. The serenity of time alone is precious, but the happiness and bubbles of love that come with family and friends are the best. I would like to share this joy through my work. I know I am fortunate to have known the people and places that have created the story of my life.”