How I transformed from an amateur artist working at a desk job, to having my work appear in TV and Movies, being sought out by renowned influencers, teaching art to celebrities, and helping thousands of artists fulfill their creative visions...
NICE TO MEET YOU
I'm Beth Gatza
Nowadays, it's easy to overlook the arduous journey behind someone else's success stories. We get so used to scrolling through highlight reels that we tend not to pay attention to all of the setbacks and hard work their creators have endured before reaching their goals.
As artists, it can be even harder. We now have endless visual representations of someone else's success, and we so easily compare our work to theirs at that artist's point in their journey. Despite the seemingly infinite resources available to us, it can be difficult for many of us to reach our desired goals. I wanted this to change.
The Footloose and Fancy-Free Film Life?
After graduating with a degree in film and a minor in fine art, I moved to Chicago where I worked on film sets in the art department. For years, I mostly lived out of my suitcase, traveling to different cities and countries, but felt lost most of the time. Portrait painting kept calling to me, but I was too busy to find time to paint and too preoccupied with finding a new job in film that would help pay the bills.
After a major health emergency, all of my money went to paying hospital bills and I found myself living back with my parents away from the city and away from my friends, recovering my health and recovering from burnout. Yearning for a major transformation in my life, I dedicated all of my efforts to waitressing and working on commercial sets in order to save enough money to start anew in the city that has been at the top of my list since forever: Los Angeles.
After moving to Los Angeles, I worked on a handful of film sets both in the city and internationally. However, I felt my passion slipping away as I struggled to make ends meet in this new place. Thus, I settled into a desk job.
Being alone in such a large city I found myself spending my free time painting portraits, making graphic novels, and attending spin classes. Eventually, painting portraits became more than just a hobby; it was an overwhelming non-stop desire to create whenever I could get the chance. Yet, I could not get my portraits to look the way I wanted and thus began my obsession with the vast world of portrait painting.
Passion, But No Community
When you are an artist, you are raised in a society that tells you that in order to achieve success, you must first die... Uh, that doesn't sound like a fun five-year plan! It's unfortunate that society tends to devalue the work of artists until they can prove themselves by achieving a certain level of success. It's even harder when success as an artist cannot be so easily defined.
I became obsessed with wanting to make my portrait paintings look more realistic without sacrificing my style, and I spent all of my free time and money trying new materials and trying to reverse-engineer the works of the masters. Yet, I could not find anyone to talk to about it. Just like many other creatives, many of my family, friends, and colleagues could not understand or appreciate the intensity of my passion for art. When I searched for a community online, I was met with artists who seemed to be in competition with one another, where judgments, unsolicited advice, and criticism were exchanged instead of genuine support and encouragement.
The BIG 400-Sq-Ft Apartment
One day at my desk job, the new IT guy came into our office. Little did I know that I had just met my future husband, best friend, and biggest cheerleader for my art. For the first time, I had someone with whom I could talk about art, who would go to museums with me, saw my dreams as realities, and push me to work through my fears when I was insecure about my art. He encouraged the big ideas, no matter how big they were... and I mean BIG.
As young lovebirds living in an expensive city like Los Angeles, we saved money by living in a 400-square-foot garage apartment overlooking the Hollywood Hills. Except my paintings were seven feet tall. It was crowded and often uncomfortable, but had I not made these paintings, I would not have made my biggest breakthroughs as an artist and professional. Even more, the big love gave me the confidence to go after my big dreams.
When it Rains, It Pours
In 2015 the floodgates opened. My artwork was being noticed in a big way, and after figuring out my process for painting, I was creating more work than I ever thought possible. That same year, I was hired to be the art teacher at one of the most prestigious private schools in Los Angeles, where I would teach art full-time to A-list clientele and celebrity families. I was commissioned to paint portraits for film and television and was sought out by influencers with tens of millions of followers for my portraiture. In my free time, I would spend holiday breaks and summers painting for my own portfolio and enjoyed the rest of the time with my new husband. Life felt even more exciting when we found out that our little family would soon be getting bigger.
A Tornado of Events
Since 2019, I've had to take disability leave at work due to my pregnancy and later welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world. Afterward, I went back as an art teacher only for the pandemic to hit us--which truly introduced me to the world of teaching online... with an infant in tow! Afterward, I left my job and created two businesses; meanwhile developing 3 filmed & edited online courses + 1 eBook alongside learning resources while teaching hundreds of remarkable students within a personalized online classroom setting. Like a powerful tornado, this journey has been replete with sleepless nights. Yet it was all worth the effort as I am now able to teach my greatest passion in life to those who are eager and willing to learn what I once desired myself. It is an unimaginable gift that allows me to do so.
Why I Do It
I remember when I was trying to learn what I am now teaching. I felt desperate and wished I could find resources to help me. Now, I use those memories as a model for the curriculums and community that I offer my students today. I'm going to "cheeseball" it up, but teaching makes me happy. It is incredibly fulfilling to help students from all over the globe get past hurdles that I struggled with so deeply. I get excited when I meet other like-minded people who can't sleep at night because they can't stop thinking about how to reach the next step in their journey. Teaching my passion makes me feel like a part of a bigger community of people who dream of leaving an impact of beauty, story, or legacy on the world. Lastly, it makes me feel good to share my passion with my husband and daughter. As a mother it is important to me that she knows that dreams can come true with hard work, discipline, and community. I really do believe this is what I was always meant to do, that's why sharing "my secrets" as an artist feels nothing but natural to me.
The 3 Biggest Struggles I had as an Amateur Artist
One of the hardest things I encountered when trying to figure out how to improve my work was the feeling of being alone on my journey. At that time, I was painting nights and weekends to try and reverse engineer the masters' works. Painting portraits has always been my passion, but I struggled so hard to get my portraits to where I desired them to be. I always compared my work to others and felt as though they had found their success due to some innate talent, or that they had attended an art academy; consequently, my chance to produce the art of my dreams felt lost.
Looking back at that time now, I have narrowed down what my most difficult struggles were as an amateur artist.
I didn't know that portrait painting was a process, kind of like the process of making bread. I know this sounds silly, but I didn't realize that there was an order of steps or materials that could help me achieve realism so quickly, without sacrificing my style.
I didn't realize that the resources online were only teaching me a very specific part of that process. At first, I believed that each of those "things" was what made a great painting. I didn't know that it was only one piece of the puzzle.
Even though I had spent my life as an artist did not mean that I knew how to paint the portraits of my dreams. It actually made things more challenging because I felt embarrassed to reach out to others, or artists were too secretive to share the secrets of their success.
It doesn't have to be the same for you.
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