It is often thought that painters seek fame and fortune and while those blessings have been imposed upon some, to earn their keep from their training seems to be the highest reward that most painters seek – Mac Betts achieved that status and it was only late in his career and upon his passing, that his contribution to the development of painting in this country is being properly acknowledged.
Instead of remaining at his home in England to forge his career, he travelled and began to explore the world at large. Mac disliked the English weather and craved sunshine and warmth and his first excursion from home allowed him to lecture in art at the Ahmudu Bello University in Northern Nigeria for eight years.
From there he began trekking again and painted in Spain and Northern Africa before finding his way to Western Australia in the early 70’s. He became the senior lecturer in painting and drawing at Curtin University and remained in that position until his retirement in 1992.
From that time on, he was able to devote himself to painting full time. His work was exhibited on a regular basis across Australia, through various galleries in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth including the prestigious Holdsworth, Bonython, Editions and Delaney Galleries.
George Haynes was to remark “it is fortunate that popularity came later in my career as I wouldn’t know as much about painting as I do now. “ Betts is another of those who can make a similar claim, as his work never stagnated to meet the demands of his audience. It continued to evolve and develop to reflect his requirements as a landscape painter.
He never commenced a painting with a preconceived idea and would let the image develop. When the canvas invoked the memory of a place once visited, he would lay down the brushes and apply the title. He carried his travels in his head and always had a steady stream of subjects from which to draw.
The highly regarded artist Elizabeth Ford was in wonder of Betts use of colour. “A visit to his studio inspires me for months” she once said in the presence of Mac and myself. And Mac in his unassuming manner just nodded an acknowledgement of the compliment and continued to work.