Painting for me is a passion that does not go away and I anticipate that the crosses and clouds that appear regularly in my landscapes will continue to do so for sometime to come. There is no symbolism attached to these emblems – they are everywhere in the landscape and painting landscapes is what I do.
In the past I have been much more figurative than I am currently and if I was to change direction, in all probability it would be back to my figurative style. It may happen though I doubt it, as the landscape still has so much to offer.
Over the years I have drawn upon my experiences in Nigeria, Morocco, North Africa & Southern Europe and since arriving to teach in WA in 1970, have replaced these experiences with traveling to the North West of Australia. A region that has constantly enthralled and surprised me – it has been the catalyst for much of my work, whilst living in Perth.
Drawing has always been important as well, but for me it is not a constant necessity. There are periods where I often make numbers of drawings but mostly when traveling and my studio is not at hand. I have never been without my own studio, even when teaching.
My paintings are produced in the studio and I still enjoy the whole process of making them, working with oils, stretching and preparing my own canvases. I work for an hour or two each day, though currently there is a physical limit to what I can accomplish, as I am incapacitated through a recent motoring accident. Each brushstroke is a mental and physical dilemma as my restricted mobility forces me to plan each movement to get the effect I seek.
I have always had consideration for other work and artistic fashion, yet, do not feel artists currently in vogue have ever overly influenced me. Tapies, Bonnard, Matisse and de Stael I continue to admire but feel my own work has developed independently of their influence.
My creative energy is directly related to the barometric pressure. Today it is raining unremittingly and I can find no compulsion to paint whatsoever. If it were sunny and warm I should feel euphoric. I would feel the euphoric sense of well-being. It’s my 76th year and since I stopped teaching in the 80’s, I have had the wonderful privilege of painting for myself, spending my days reading and painting in a country environment and I hope to sustain this situation for the rest of my life.
– Mac Betts, 2008