Betsy Bart’s cover image for Dan’s Papers his week, “Beach Bakery,” is a familiar site, especially if you live in Westhampton. Even if you don’t, there’s a sense of being part of the setting as you absorb the details and atmosphere. Yet it’s still hard to imagine the venue in a specific place or time. This placeless and timeless quality gives the bakery its charm and substance.
Q: You seem so attached to settings in the region, do you live here all year round?
A: We stay here in the summer and in New York the rest of the time. I’m like a hermit on my property during the summer, but I do travel by bike around Westhampton. When I’m in Manhattan, I paint from photographs.
Q: What qualities attract you when you are looking for a subject?
A: Light and shadow. And color. In my cover image, there was a shadow that showed there were no leaves on the trees although I painted it on a beautiful spring day.
I have a romantic view of local scenes. When I see something I love, I know it has to be a painting. I paint what I have an emotional connection to.
Q: How did your family influence your wanting to be an artist?
A: My mother was a painter, my older sister was in advertising. My younger sister is an art consultant in Los Angeles. Film was also a part of my life growing up. My family loved film. My mother and I would see classic movies with Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwick, for instance. My mother would say I could stay home from school to see a film, if I did the ironing.
Q: What was your formal art background like?
A: I went to Moore College in Philadelphia and got a B.F.A. at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburg majoring in painting. Then I moved to New York City on the last day of classes, where things were happening. I had a job and an apartment four days after I moved.
Q: Was your job connected to art?
A: I worked at a publishing company, in the art department, doing photography.
Q: Did you continue with your career?
A: I got married; my husband owned a printing company. I stayed home and painted, attended the National Academy School and the Art Students League. But I was a full-time parent.
Q: When did you get back to full-time painting?
A: When my youngest child recently went to college.
Q: Now when you paint, is there a message or feeling you are trying to get across?
A: My paintings are simple in message and speak for themselves, or I would be a writer. I carry a camera with me all the time, catching the moment. In New York and here, I look up and see something unexpected. It’s about the moment.
Q: Even though you are so connected to this area, you capture special “moments” when you travel.
A: I love to travel, like to Venice where I try to get back every three years, and London. In London, we saw the David Hockney exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art.
Q: How is your personal philosophy connected to your art?
A: I think I know who I am. I’m not intimidated by expectations. My family didn’t go overboard by saying my work was good.