Bettina Reiser, affectionately known to the kids in her care at Eagle's Nest, Longmont Estates Elementary's Community School program as Ms. B, grew up in Bavaria, Germany.
Growing up only minutes from Franz Marc's home and being surrounded by a family of artists she said she was bound to be an artist.
"It's been all around me. I didn't have a T.V. until I was 16-years-old. So, one of the activities during rainy days was doing artwork or creating something," Reiser said.
Reiser came to the United States in 1983 to learn English. She also took the opportunity to go to college, an endeavor that has more barriers in Europe. She attended the University of Northern Colorado's art program where her emphasis was on life drawing.
Reiser said, "The teachers were awesome, very encouraging. They instilled a good foundation. As a kid, I played with art in school, but it never was really serious. I didn't realize until college that I had a talent for it."
Although life has, at times, gotten in the way of her art, Reiser, has rekindled her love for art, both on a personal level and as a teacher.
In the last year, through her business, Tangle Turtle Art, she's been very active in creating art and entering shows. She was in the National Fine Arts Exhibition, was part of an exhibition at the Lincoln Gallery in Loveland, the Greeley arts picnic (a juried exhibition), and has her work up around town at various breweries, the Great Frame Up, and more. A coffee shop recently commissioned her to create three pieces for them as well.
Zentangle is a method created and taught by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Reiser took an intensive workshop with them and is a certified Zentangle instructor.
She describes the method as "drawing structured patterns in a mindful way." One reason for starting with patterning, dots and lines and so forth is to remove some of the psychological barriers people may have stopping them from creating their own art.
Reiser presents the method the way she was taught, but with a slight variation.
"First we appreciate the material. We talk a little bit about where it comes from and then you have this little white square in front of you. You make little dots in each corner. So, it takes away the scariness of a white piece of paper," Reiser said. "Then, you do a little outline. So you have a frame around whatever you're going to do. So you're already putting your mark on the paper. I start out with people drawing a big z, so it splits up the paper into sections. Then, I teach the breakdown of each pattern."
Reiser has taught others since she was young and has found her love of teaching children.
"I've been teaching knitting and crocheting since I was a teenager. I showed my friends how. And, I grew up with four sisters and two brothers and I'm the oldest. So, I've always had littles around me," Reiser said.
Reiser shares that there's something special about teaching the younger set.
"I just love it. I love sharing what I know, I love seeing the kids go, 'Oh, I've got it. Wow!" I love seeing that kind of discovery," she said. While she doesn't formally teach Zentangle to the kids in her care, she has occasionally had the opportunity to teach the method there and has brought some of her work and methods to other schools in the district, including Alpine Elementary.
She brings her passion to teaching adults as well. She encourages those who want to learn more about Zentangle to start with a beginner course. If they get into it, they have the opportunity to go for more advanced instruction and, sometimes, she finds people want to pursue certification as well.
The moment of discovery that brings her joy isn't limited to the kids.
"I've had a lot of adults, like engineers do that, too. They went through a Zentangle class and found/said, 'Oh, wow, I didn't know I could do that!'" Those kinds of discoveries, I just love it and I love sharing what I do. It's what brings me peace and zen," Reiser said.
Reiser has taken a lot of what she's learned to begin the process of becoming an art therapist. She has a therapeutic arts coach certificate and continues to take courses online. She is currently focusing on how art can help people untangle their trauma, especially in this era of collective trauma.
Reiser uses art and Zentangle, in particular, to untangle her emotions and to encourage others to do the same.
"I do my best work when the emotions run high whether it's stress, love or sadness, or something else because you put a lot more into the piece," she said.
She wants people to take the opportunity to explore Zentangle for themselves and in general, to not be afraid to get into art.
"It can be a challenge for the grown-ups to let go of all their worries. They have to clear their minds before they come before they engage in the work … Because this world goes too fast sometimes," Reiser said.