Work in Marlboro: A community History Project
Betsy MacArthur: Painter
Production Team: Maddie, Audrey, and Anna
Before she even moved here, Betsy MacArthur spent every summer of her life in Marlboro. She often visited her friends and family, but she moved here permanently in the early 70's. She took up residence in her grandmother's old house. She moved here because she wanted a place that felt like home to her, even without her husband, who had died when he was 42 years old and when Betsy was 39. She decided to move here from Princeton, New Jersey. She has a studio which her husband built for her right next to her house. Betsy has continued to live and work in Marlboro where she raised her four children who are now grown up.
As a child Betsy was pretty shy and everyone called her 'Big Bets' because she was five foot ten at age 11. When Betsy was older she went to Smith College and studied botany. She graduated in 1954. When she was 25 she was hospitalized with bipolar disorder. While recuperating she began to study painting. She chose painting as a career because she found it soothing and relaxing and at age 72 she still does.
She doesn't often sell her work, but a number of Marlboro citizens have bought pieces from her . The artists that inspire her most are Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh. Betsy likes to work with oil, pastels, brush acrylics, ink and gouache. Her favorite themes to paint are portraits, flowers, cats, her house, and snow scenes.
Betsy's process for creating a painting is to first get a stretched canvas of the right size. Then, she takes her pencil and makes a quick sketch of what she's going to paint. Last, she takes a pallet knife or regular brush and begins painting.
Her typical day at work is usually to get up "sometimes late". She makes a cup of tea and reads for a while. She also writes at length in her journal and memoir. Then, when she feels like painting, she paints. She starts off with a small painting but later in the day she paints something bigger. Betsy thinks that an important part of her job is to "just keep going."
Betsy loves to work in her studio because it reminds her of her husband and also it frees her to be alive as an artist.
Writing this biography about Betsy helped us learn about her job as an artist. We were glad to have the opportunity to meet her and learn so much about her work.