Bettie Bailey can paint anything
Bettie Bailey has painted oil on canvas for 39 years. The past year has provided her opportunities to expand.
"When I began, I didn't have formal training," she said. "I guess I didn't know mixing yellow and blue makes green until I was 38."
She was approached by Pat Dexheimer to paint water barrels for a library beautification project, so she gave it a try. The result was water barrels each with a different pastoral landscape scene.
The notoriety of that project led to another opportunity.
"If she could paint water barrels, we wondered what else she could paint," Burleson Star general manager Brian Porter said. "We asked if she'd like to try a newsrack."
The result is a transformation of a mundane rack that had been positioned outside the newspaper's office to a public art project.
"Those are the toughest two projects I've done," Bailey said. "I had always just painted on canvas."
She was asked to paint bluebonnets on the newspaper's rack, because that's the thing for which she's most known. She had freedom to create from there.
"I enjoy painting landscapes," Bailey said. "Painting clouds and water are my favorite."
The newsrack includes some of all of it, as does the water barrels.
"The toughest part is getting started. You're trying to determine what the final picture will be," Bailey said. "You begin to paint and it just comes together."
Bailey spent an estimated 30 hours painting the single newsrack and "probably more," she said.
The final result arrived last week.
"I still have the very first painting that I created," Bailey said. "I am just as proud of it as I am the newsrack or the rain barrels."
She once painted an elephant she saw pictured in National Geographic, just because she liked it.
"I don't even like painting animals," she said. "It just talked to me, and I painted it."
Bailey is also known for her chicken and dumplings, a treat she used to serve at her tea room.
"If you think her paintings are good, try her chicken and dumplings," Porter said.
She admits to preferring one over the other.
"Painting," Bailey said. "The chicken and dumplings are a lot more work."
She's created so many paintings through the years that she can't begin to keep track.
"People will say they have a work of mine," Bailey said. "I'll see it and honestly not remember painting it. When I'm finished with one, I like to think about what I want to paint next."