by Cecile Oreste
Betsy Karasik‘s professional career began a long way from her current life and work as an artist. A resident of the Borderstan area since 1984, currently on the Dupont side, she was born in New York and raised in Bethesda, Karasik moved back to the DC area after law school and spent over a decade doing negligence, product liability and insurance unfair claims litigation.
Although Karasik found her legal career to be “exciting,” it left little time for much else. In 1998, she decided to pursue art and enrolled in classes at Corcoran College of Art and Design. “I am often asked if I miss practicing law and the answer is no,” Karasik said.
Karasik had minimal formal training in art before attending Corcoran, but the interest was always there: “I was always considered the ‘class artist’ in school and was frequently enlisted to design the yearbook cover, classroom murals and similar projects.”
The final push for Karasik occurred during the end of her tenure as a lawyer.
“A year or so before I switched to painting full time, the landlord at my law office offered me the opportunity to work in a spare room of the building, and donated a drafting table and chair, generous gestures which got me started,” Karasik said.
Today, she makes a living as a painter and takes advantage of the time her new career path has created, which includes spending time with her partner, Bob Fener, at his farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Karasik has been commissioned to paint dozens of portraits of clients and their pets. Her work can be found in the Borderstan area, including the clothing and accessories shop, Caramel, at 16th and U NW.
While Dupont Circle may not seem like the ideal place for an artist who is inspired by nature and animals, Karasik has found the area to be a great catalyst for her paintings. “I get tremendous inspiration from all the beautifully tended gardens with their abundance of flowers, butterflies and ornamental trees… as well as all the dogs in the neighborhood,” she said. She also takes “reference” photos at the dog park on 17th and S NW, her new “happy place.” Reference photos are used as the basis for paintings.
In addition to painting, photography is a huge part of Karasik’s life. She takes her camera everywhere and uses her photos to create greeting cards and as references for her paintings. She also has studied pottery, metal sculpture, various forms of dance and plays the guitar.
“For many people including myself, art is a calling. I never deliberately set out to become a painter; I just discovered that I needed to paint in order to feel fulfilled,” Karasik said.
You can schedule an appointment with Karasik to view her art, or visit her studio during Mid City Artists two open studios weekends (spring and fall). For more information, visit www.betsykarasik.com.