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Betsy Ashton

About me (click to read)

Discipline: Painting (portraiture)

Studio: #222

Lives: TBC

Email: betsy at



Six years ago, Betsy Ashton returned to the career that she abandoned in 1971, when she took a long detour into television news. Three credits shy of a master of fine arts degree in painting from The American University in Washington, DC, she was an illustrator, artist and art teacher, who sold many pen and ink, charcoal, and acrylic sketches and portraits before creating a program in which she taught art on a local television program. That experience, plus the fact that the art world was completely entranced with Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism, led her to reporting and anchoring the news on radio and television for nearly two decades, first in Washington, D.C., and later at WCBS-TV and CBS News in New York City. While covering the courts for WJLA-TV News in Washington, she became the first and only television news reporter ever to draw her own courtroom sketches while covering trials – a feat possible only because lawyers were so redundant! Her sketches were shown daily on television and later exhibited and sold by the Jane Haslem Gallery in Washington.

Ashton resumed painting in November, 2006, at the urging of renowned painter Everett Raymond Kinstler, NA, whose workshops she attended at the National Academy School and the Art Students’ League in New York. Guided by Kinstler, she also took Michael Shane Neal’s portrait painting workshops in Nashville, Tennessee, and studied painting full time for two years with Mary Beth McKenzie and Sharon Sprung at the National Academy School of Fine Arts. She has also taken workshops with Wolf Kahn, Peter Cox and Morton Kaisch at the National Academy, and painted in Florence, Italy, with McKenzie and the Art Students’ League. She is a member of the National Arts Club, the Portrait Society of America, and is on the judging panel of the Salmagundi Club in New York City. In 2011, she joined Aaron Shikler’s group of Wednesday night painters known as The Painting Group.

Special Commissions & Honors

In 2012, Betsy Ashton was commissioned to paint the official portrait of Philip Lader, former U.S. Ambassador to the Court of Saint James, for the collection of the United States Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London. She is working on it now.

In 2009, Ashton was commissioned to paint actor Hal Holbrook for the Hall of Fame Collection of The Players (club) in Gramercy Park, New York City. It hangs at the top of the grand staircase to the second floor.

Her portrait of author Louise Erdrich, winner of the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, was presented in November, 2009, at the Kenyon Review’s gala dinner at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City. It now hangs in Finn House, Kenyon College, the headquarters of the Kenyon Review, in Gambier, Ohio.

Ashton won four consecutive scholarships to the National Academy School of Fine Arts in New York City:

Robert Lehman Endowment Scholarship – March, 2007 Nicholas Markatos Scholarship – June, 2007 Inga Denton School Scholarship — Nov. 2007 Ralph Fabri School Scholarship, – June 2008

Recent Exhibitions

2012 Salmagundi Club Summer Exhibition, New York, NY 2012 Open Studios Exhibit, Reis Studios, Long Island City, NY 2012 Faces of Winter – Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists, Stamford, CT 2011 Group Show, The Painting Group, Soho, New York, NY 2011 Long Island City Arts Open – Long Island City, NY 2011 Faces of Winter – Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists, Old Lyme, CT 2010 RE-VISION Exhibition, Katzen Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 2010 Online Exhibit, The National Arts Club, New York, NY

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