Beth Cox began painting and drawing as a child. She grew up in Texas and her mother, a china painter, began instilling the roots of a passion for art in her at a young age.
She remembers their tradition of collecting the back covers of Readers Digest that featured pieces of art. “It was something that began many conversations about art that often led to learning more about the artists that created them.
Throughout her life, Beth’s passion for art was fueled by visits to museums and through art classes. After moving to Scottsdale in 2000, she enrolled in challenging classes in painting and drawing at the Scottsdale Artist’s School commenting that, “There’s always something new that can be learned in art, or in finding a different approach to a common task.” She began seriously painting again after homeschooling her two daughters, Ashley and Amy, through high school. “Even though I couldn’t fully focus on art during those years, I did succeed in passing on the love of art to yet another generation, just like my momma did.” Her daughter Ashley is a wonderful photographer and graphic artist, and her younger daughter Amy is very dedicated to illustration and watercolor.
Beth has not always worked with gourds. When she picked up art again, her main mediums had been oils, acrylics, and watercolors, and didn’t have a consistent theme. She became a member of the Sonoran Arts League in 2006 and in 2008, opened her own studio to the public in the 13th Annual Hidden In The Hills Studio Art Tour. Early the next year while still trying to find her artistic “voice”, she discovered gourds. While in Texas for a visit, she purchased some pear-shaped gourds from an antique shop. Back in Arizona, while sitting in her studio, Beth thought, “That gourd looks like a Gambel’s Quail.” That day the “first generation” of the beautiful fine art quail she creates today was born. Friends and neighbors immediately fell in love with her creations and couldn’t stop talking about them. Beth knew she was on to something. She had one of those moments where you realize “Hey, I thought of that!”. In 2009, she debuted the quail at the 14th annual Hidden In The Hills Studio Art Tour. The first day of the show was a huge indicator of the high appeal for such unique and beautiful art. Beth almost sold out of her inventory the first weekend of the show. On keeping up with production she says, “I have to work very hard at maintaining a collection for people to see because they sell so quickly.”
Beth’s process of transforming a gourd into a work of art begins with creating the black features on the bird. She hand sculpts a polymer clay beak and top-knot for each quail, baking them to permanently harden them. She then sketches a design on the gourd which she burns into its wood-like surface with a pyrography pen. Ink dyes are applied to add vivid jewel tones and bright colors to the design. Most of the time, Beth’s designs are derived from desert botanicals including desert creatures and even insects. Each design is unique and offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of the Sonoran Desert through Beth’s eyes. After each quail has been carefully painted, she applies a UV shielding overcoat to protect and preserve each of her fine art pieces.
“My art has a universal appeal because of the attraction people have to our feathered desert quail friends. Each piece evokes a happy feeling, and draws the viewer in for a closer look at the details. I try to put interesting objects and composition in my designs that make you want to look a second time.”