Betty Power and The Raglan Art Group

Out the back of the Old School Arts Centre on the first Friday of the month you’ll find a gathering of artists creating a little bit of magic in paint.

Founded by Betty Power, the Raglan Art Group has been meeting every month for the past 36 years.

Interested in developing her own skills and also sharing friendship with other creatives, Betty started painting with another fledgling artist.

“I wanted to paint and had tried on my own, a young woman had moved to Raglan to work as a teacher who was interested in painting and she joined me at my house and slowly more people joined,” Betty says.

Before too long the painting duo had trebled in size and, as Betty says, they became ‘official’, paying subs, opening a bank account and renting space at the Te Uku church hall.

At its peak, the group had more than 20 members and, needing more space, they moved to the Te Uku Hall. A rent rise saw them move into the art studio at the Old School last year where they continue to meet every month.

A self-taught artist, Betty loves the camaraderie of the group and says each artist brings their own unique vision and ideas.

“It’s a lovely group of artists supporting each other in our attempts to turn out a nice painting. We all help each other out and we always ask each other for advice.”

For as long as she can remember Betty has drawn, she thinks it might be in the blood. A great-great aunt was one of the first women to travel to Iraq to paint and Betty’s father also dabbled in the arts.

“During the war my father would draw in Indian ink on any white paper he could get his hands on,” she says.

Painting in oil, acrylic and water colour, Betty is a keen landscape and still life painter.

She still remembers her first painting, it was of Karioi, painted back in the day when she and Leo were sharemilking. “I remember the grass was so green.”

The next painting was an ocean, she says must have been painted from a photograph.

With plenty of inspiration around Whaingaroa and on her travels with her late husband Leo, Betty photographs scenes that capture her imagination and recreates the scenes on canvas back home.

“I tried painting outside but the easel would blow over so it was easier to take a photo.”

It also meant over the years Betty has developed the ability to paint from her mind’s eye using the photograph as reinforcement.

“What you see with your eyes and what you photograph are quite different; street signs look smaller and mountains lower in the horizon.”

The walls of her Raglan home are awash with the beautiful scenes she has captured over the years; from sunflowers outside a gypsy’s home in Germany and views of the American delta to native bush scenes, native birds and sunsets at the Raglan Wharf.

Turning 87 in November, Betty says she will keep painting for as long as she can and takes inspiration from one of the painters in the group who was still painting at 96.

New artists are welcome to join the group – all levels, ages and painting styles are encouraged.

Janine Jackson

For more information about the Raglan Art Group phone Betty on 07 825 8657 or just turn up at the Raglan Old School Arts Centre on the first Friday of the month from 10am-12 – next session is Friday, November 1.