Bethany Alvarez is among the most involved of all students in Castleton University’s community.
This sophomore acts as head of the International Committee with the Student Government Association, is president of the Humane Society Club, vice president of Castleton’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, and is on the cross country and outdoor track teams.
As if all that weren’t enough, she is also double majoring in biology and Spanish, and still pursues a lifelong passion outside of her declared academic disciplines as a gifted artist with an intense love of animals.
Alvarez’s journey with art and animals began when she checked out dozens of illustrated wildlife books from the library as a young girl. She was fascinated by how the artists portrayed the animals to the point where she set an early career goal of becoming an artist who illustrated for those book companies.
“I would always open the books and spend hours trying to recreate other artists’ work,” Alvarez recalls fondly.
Years later, she is still at it and her skills have almost entirely been self-taught. Her artistic tools of choice have always been pencils because they were simply always the most accessible medium. The piece she is perhaps most proud of is a pencil drawing of a German Shepherd that she completed when she was 15. It took her 60 hours.
“I learned a lot while doing this piece because I was experimenting with hyperrealism. Here I started to learn how to use different hardnesses of pencils. That’s when the lighting can actually come out in your piece, and it makes it look so lifelike,” she said.
The picture represents a turning point in her art.
Ali Nelson is a senior who saw that picture of the German shepherd in Bethany’s dorm room one day.
“I asked her if she could draw one like that for me of my dog, Josie,” she said, and a way to earn money blossomed.
Recipients of her pet portraits often feel that Alvarez is able to capture the soul of their furry friends with painstaking attention to detail.
“The picture Bethany drew of Josie captures Josie’s sweet, calm side… She had been really energetic up until she turned 9 or 10 and then she calmed down, so this picture captures her calmer side. It also captures her shyness,” Nelson said.
Listening to her talk, it’s clear Nelson is a huge fan.
“Bethany’s work ethic, dedication, and passion for her artwork makes her work special. Bethany usually works on her drawings all night. You’d think she’d get tired and her work would get sloppy, but it doesn’t. “I don’t know how she does it!” Nelson said.
“She’s just so passionate. Some people are just gifted artists and Bethany is definitely one of those people.”
Animals have always been a huge passion for Alvarez.
“They are beautiful creatures, but they are also very helpless,” she said, adding that she aims to bring out that beauty and find ways to bring awareness about shelter pets through her work.
Mariah O’Hara, graduate assistant program advisor for Student Life, met Alvarez when she came asking if she could start a fund-raiser selling her pet portraits to raise money for the Humane Society Club. During this meeting, O’Hara saw some of Alvarez’s work and said she was “absolutely amazed.”
This interaction is what opened up the door for Alvarez to do a massive 37” by 42”, side-by-side piece of O’Hara’s family golden retriever, Tavish.
“Bethany is very detailed oriented,” raves O’Hara. “I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her once she became a delegate for the Student Government Association and I’ve seen how much she dedicates herself to ALL aspects of her life. I think this is what makes her and her artwork special,“ O’Hara said.
“She takes the time to really look at the photos provided and even asks questions about the pet’s personality,” O’Hara continued. “She loves and cares about animals and knows the special impact they have on our lives.”
But it’s not just about pets. Alvarez has done tons of other inspired visual artworks of diverse natures. She is ever driven to continue expanding herself as an artist.
“I enjoy challenges and I enjoy bringing out the soul of the work. Whether or not that piece is a still life, or an athletic piece, or something out of fantasy, that doesn’t really matter to me,” she explains. “I do portraits and that’s usually the most requested, but I’m also willing to work with a variety of different mediums and subjects.”
And her art has a nice positive byproduct too.
“The biggest thing that my art does for me is relieve stress,” she said, adding that she’d love to create a business with her art someday.
You can find her work at @alvarezartistries on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/alvarezartistries/ or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 401-683-8512 for commissioned work.