Sculpture has more significance when it honors someone or something bigger than ourselves, something that is lacking in solely self-expressive works.
About my art
I have been inspired to make sculptures of historical, sports and military themes because of my interest in people and ideas that are, what I consider, “larger-than-life”- those that go out of their way for a greater cause. This interest is due to my early studies of historical paintings and sculptures of the Classical Greek, Renaissance and Baroque eras of art where these types of heroes were commonly depicted.
My passion for honoring our veterans in art was initially born from my late father David Betti whom I first consulted with while creating military monuments in 2011. A U.S. Marine during the Vietnam war, my dad worked tirelessly helping service members and their families in receiving veteran benefits. He was larger than life himself. Because of my father, creating military themed sculptures has become much more meaningful and has continued to inspire me to honor those who bravely fight to defend our country.
Sutton’s professional career in sculpture spans over 20 years; following a thorough training in traditional arts at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and 10 years as a lead sculpting assistant for figurative sculptors in CA and CO. Since 2008, he has found a niche creating custom commissioned sculptures for outdoor, permanent installations that honor members of the military, historical figures, and athletes. He maintains a working sculpture studio and gallery in the arts community of Loveland, Colorado where a variety of sculptural projects are often underway. He is a member of the National Sculpture Society and sells his sculptures at occasional art shows throughout the US. Sutton’s works are sought after for their realistic qualities and attention to detail.
Sutton began drawing when he was very little. In his early development years, he found inspiration from his artistic uncle who would set up tent and draw caricatures of people at the local fair. The artistic skills he nurtured while studying his uncle’s sketches and drawing people and animals helped to make the transition to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco natural.
At AAU, he studied figure painting, drawing, sculpture and human anatomy with some of the great art teachers in California, including Barbara Bradley, Chuck Pyle and Craig Nelson. In addition to his full time student status, Sutton attended daily 3 hour drawing workshops offered at the academy. For three years he worked hard at developing his drawing skills with the aim to be hired by Walt Disney Feature Animation. At the end of his third year his portfolio was evaluated by Disney recruits visiting AAU. After a thorough review by Disney animators in Los Angeles, California and Orlando, Florida he got the call that he didn’t make it.
Discouraged at the rejection, Sutton left the Academy and found work creating video games in a small animation studio in the North San Francisco Bay Area. His job was to take loose pencil sketches and do ink drawings that would be used as the final artwork. He created hundreds of “clean-up” drawings until computer animation began replacing traditional hand-drawn methods. This change, which was happening to all of the animation studios in the 1990s, forced Betti to rethink his direction as an artist.
Shortly after, Betti sculpted halloween masks for a well known mask making company and also created large-scale sculptures for Las Vegas casinos as a sculptors assistant to Mario Chiodo. He worked in the halloween mask making business when the industry was rapidly expanding, a stark contrast from previous attempts at traditional animation which was quickly becoming a rare artform. Masks of famous politicians as well as monsters and aliens were some of his sculptures. He learned techniques for creating wrinkles, hair and skin textures that carried over well throughout all of the mold making processes. It was as a sculptors assistant that the experience influenced him the most; to pursue his new found interest in large scale sculpture.
During a trip to Italy to study Michelangelo’s marble carvings, Betti was inspired to follow in the path of large-scale figurative art. For five years immediately afterwards the artist lived in a detached one-car garage with no plumbing and focused his energies on technique and produced over 100 clay sculptures. Almost all of them have since been destroyed.
In 2004, Sutton was sponsored by southern California artist Danielle Anjou to study stone carving in Pietrasanta, Italy. The artist carved Carrara marble and learned old stone carving techniques used by master Italian craftsmen. Some of the techniques learned were the last of their kind as many of the old stone carvers were retiring with no apprentices to carry on the traditions. The lessons that were passed down since Michelangelo’s time were coming to an end. For Betti, it was a time of growth and holds tremendous value to the artist.
For several years Betti sculpted realistic mannequins in Colorado and Germany. He worked closely with corporate clients such as Nike, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Athleta, Armani, Target as well as Disney. The experience of sculpting life-like athletic and fashion mannequins helped to create a thorough knowledge of the human body.
Continuing his work as a sculptors assistant, Sutton worked for the sculptor Dee Clements creating small sculptures and large memorials. Working for Dee, he learned studio management and the bronze casting business; from wax pouring and chasing to welding and patinas. Like finding a missing puzzle piece, Sutton felt that he was ready to start his own sculpture company.
In 2009, he permanently installed his first large scale public art sculpture honoring the workers of Hoover Dam in Boulder City, Nevada. The sculpture “Puddler’s Break” gave him the boost he needed to create large-scale bronze monuments on his own. He has since installed large monuments in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, Ohio, Louisiana and California.
The artist maintains an active sculpture studio in Loveland, Colorado.