“What about me?” This introspective question led Belle Roth on an exploratory journey that would manifest into a path of supreme self-rediscovery — all thanks to a few paintbrushes and acrylic colors.
Belle, who works in market development for an international corporation, had never painted before she decided to pick up a brush in 2019. In fact, she often jokes about her mother’s claim that she “barely knew how to hold a crayon while growing up.” But equipped with newfound curiosity and a desire for self-discovery, the 50-year-old wife and mother of three decided to buy a basic art kit as a means of creative expression. Now less than a year since she painted her first piece, Belle’s work has been featured in art galleries and shows across the world, including Florence, Barcelona and New York. Currently, the self-taught contemporary artist is gearing up for a collection of international shows this fall.
Belle, who now calls Memphis home, was born in Manila, Philippines. An avid traveler, her love for wandering is often displayed in her art, each piece telling a unique story of adventure and exploration using an array of cities as her backdrops. Though she makes the balance look easy — juggling a full-time career, assisting her husband with his charitable endeavors and navigating the sudden spotlight as an artist — Belle admits that it’s all about self-discipline and frequently evaluating her priorities. The budding artist spoke to StyleBlueprint about her season of rediscovery and what she’s looking forward to next in her artistic journey. Meet our newest FACE of Memphis!
You started painting for the first time in 2019 as a hobby. When did you decide you were ready to show your art to the world?
I remember having dinner with friends at our home. It was the first time I shared my art outside my family. One of my friends, who is a fellow artist, was generous in his comments and even mentioned that one day he will see my name in New York. It was a great night, and we all laughed about it, but it made me wonder if there is a special place out there waiting for me. So, I created my website and Instagram page and started sharing my work online.
Your story is quite remarkable because just weeks after sharing your work online, you received a call from a representative in New York. How did that come about?
Yes. Just two weeks later, as if I summoned the dream energy, a gallery in Chelsea, NY, sent a letter of interest to represent me. It was unexpected and surreal. So, my husband and I did our due diligence. We researched and reached out to people who know about art, including colleagues who are living in New York. After a month of following the gallery’s curatorial process, including a series of interviews, 10 additional art submissions and endless sleepless nights of anticipation, I received their formal offer and the rest is history.
This partnership opened up doors for me, including more gallery and art show invitations. As we speak, we have two representations with galleries in Italy and Portugal. I was included as one of 100 international artists who will be presented at a show at the Oculus World Trade Center in New York. Looking back, I didn’t even know that Chelsea is the center of the art scene in New York. I just trusted my feelings and embraced the opportunity without fear.
You’ve mentioned that art found you at a time when you needed it the most. Can you tell us about this time in your life?
Art found me at a time when I needed to discover myself. For a while, I’d been a single mother, and my daughters had recently graduated college — one is a nurse, the other an engineer, and one works for a great corporate company. I’d accomplished a lot and enjoyed my life, but I needed to rediscover what I really wanted. I’d always been a mother, daughter, friend, worker and now wife, but I needed to figure out what was next. Art allowed me to look back and figure out who I was, where I am, and who I want to be.
What have you learned about yourself since you started painting?
At a young age, I placed a dollar value on success. My art gave me an opportunity to reinvent myself and embrace what life has to offer with an open mind and heart. I always thought that people who succeed in life have a template to follow. With my art, I discovered that if I am irrationally passionate about something, then I will find a new pathway that will lead me to my new definition of success and happiness. Today, success means how I can influence people positively to get more out of their life.
What does your artistic process entail? What inspires your creativity?
Whenever I do art, I never chase for the end result. I chase the passion that goes with it. I sometimes wish I had these formal art lessons or process, but I don’t. I just put myself out there. And my paintings are from memories from the past — or the what-ifs — things I could have done. I’m always challenging and competing with myself. I’m not necessarily trying or chasing success. I just want to make sure I add value.
You still work a full-time job for a large corporation. How do you manage both?
I really love both. I love my work, and I really love painting. There is really no balance. I made both of them a part of my life. It does require discipline, and thankfully I have pretty good self-discipline and I know my priorities. And I’m passionate about both.
When you’re not painting or working at your full-time job, what do you enjoy doing?
I like cooking and reading. The pandemic has gotten me into travel journaling. So, I’ve been doing a lot of journaling. It’s something that I can leave behind to my daughters.
You have frequently talked about charity and giving back. You assist your husband with his charitable endeavors and have even donated some of your paintings to local charities. Why is that important to you?
It really makes me happy. I am blessed with so much — good family and friends. I believe that there are reasons why you’re in this world. We all have a purpose, and we are meant to help others. I often say that it doesn’t matter where you are, but what you’re doing with where you are.
If there is a message you’d like to share with the world through your art or even your story, what would it be?
Some people dream of instant success, but you have to get up and work for it. If you can dream it, you can do it; but make sure you work every day.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
It’s actually by Steve Jobs. “Most overnight successes took a long time.” It resonates with me because that’s where I am with my career.
Besides faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
My headset, because I can tune out the world and go into my own space; my incense because I believe in energy and usually smudge every day; and also, my essential oil diffuser.
Thank you, Belle! All images courtesy of Steve Conroy Photography.