Becky Bettesworth's artistic take Devon's beauty
PUBLISHED: 14:28 10 October 2016 | UPDATED: 14:28 10 October 2016
Artist Becky Bettesworth has brought our love of vintage to the seaside with her depictions of Devon beauty spots in her popular prints. Laura Dale meets the busy mum of three
BECKY’S prints are instantly recognisable – the pastel colours, gleaming waters, birds in flight; all in soft focus and presented like a vintage-style travel poster. They look as though they are re-prints from a by-gone era, but they aren’t. In fact each unique image is a two week labour of love – a perfect blend of modern day life and nostalgia.
Becky only developed this style of artwork three years ago when she was asked to exhibit at Greenway, the former home of Agatha Christie, on the River Dart. She explains: “I was doing a completely different style of painting with acrylic paint and caricatures of people. When I was asked to exhibit at Greenway I wanted to create something different.
“Greenway is like a little time capsule, everything is reminiscent of the 1930s, summer time and old travel posters.” Becky produced four images of Greenway for the exhibition and was inundated with requests for her work.
She started looking at selling her work or licensing a company to produce prints, but after nearly signing on the dotted line with a well-known firm responsible for printing many of the traditional travel posters, she decided to do it herself. Becky says: “I get them printed and then I store them and distribute them from my home – everything is done from home. It’s a cottage industry that started around the kitchen table. I just did pictures of the surrounding areas – I’m spoilt for choice living down here.”
Key to Becky’s success has been her social media following with 10,000 Facebook followers. “I was a real technophobe but social media, Facebook in particular, has been great at growing my business. I don’t think it would be what it is today without it.” She adds: “I get a lot of requests from people asking for me to do prints of different places, but I think I follow my heart. It definitely helps to know the place because you get an essence and feel of that place. I visit a place, take photos, do sketches and research it. I want that picture to be a true reflection of that place.”
Becky builds the pictures in layers of shapes. Everything is hand drawn then created on the computer and colour is added. A picture can be made up of 300-400 different layers of shapes. She explains: “When it’s put together, I draw every single shape. It takes me about one week to create the drawing and the concept and to have the composition right, and then it takes me another week to build the image up. It really is a labour of love.”
Becky’s love of art started at primary school, she went to art college and she found herself working for an advertising company in London. She says: “I did some work for Guinness, Cadbury’s and Coke. I won an award for the best promotional campaign for the Guinness Rugby World Cup in 1999. Then I went to New Zealand and there I was looking at other artists’ work and thinking, ‘I could do that, I would love to be able to do that’.”
Becky and her husband Matt moved to Torquay in 2001 and she started to build up her portfolio. Then in 2004 they started a family and Becky’s art career took a back step when she became a full time mum. She recalls: “When my youngest was at school, I had a huge burning desire to get back into my art.”
Now with a burgeoning business and legions of fans – including the nation’s favourite cook Mary Berry – Becky is ‘astounded’ at how well her art business is growing. She explains: “If it was another artist producing this work I would be thinking ‘they are doing so well’, but I don’t have the time to reflect and appreciate how well it’s going. From an artist’s perspective of creating from your heart – that fact that people appreciate it, is amazing. To have recognition and people loving what you are doing is a wonderful feeling.”
Becky’s biggest personal challenge is the pressure of having a business and managing it, but her confidence was boosted in 2015 when she won Venus Business Mother of the Year. She says: “I hope it’s inspiring for other women to realise that you can set something up and go for it and do it your way. I am dyslexic so I found maths and English difficult; but if you have a talent at art that’s as good as if you are great at algebra or spelling.”
Many of Becky’s images are of places she frequents with her family – Salcombe, Torquay, Exmouth, Burgh Island, Beer, the South Hams and Croyde, to name but a few. Becky says: “When people see my pictures, they can connect to that whole way of life – it reminds people of being young or going on holidays – away from the rat race. It’s about enjoying the simple things in life in beautiful places.” And Becky’s artwork does just that – transports you to your chosen Devon beauty spot and reminds you that summer is only around the corner.