Betsy Pearson . . .
Living as Art
Photography Kirsten Shultz
illustrations: Betsy Pearson
(page 2 of 4)
It would be easy to write a sort of Norman Rockwell story about Betsy—growing up in the Midwest, studying art at the University of Kansas, and launching her fledgling career in NYC before marrying her gunnery officer sweetheart in the WWII era. There’s an endearing American nostalgia in the vision of this young couple comparing notes as Bob wrote for the United States Navy. Later, they worked together as writer and graphic designer on Shipmate, the monthly alumni magazine for the U.S. Naval Academy. “We had a good time doing that together,” she smiles, her eyes softening.
A serendipitous path through advertising work took Betsy to the New York Herald Tribune, where she created a column about parenting that ran for the next 17 years and was syndicated internationally in more than 70 newspapers. During those days of writing—a daily column, mind you—she brought up three spirited children, and never missed a single deadline. In testament to her sage advice and, just as likely, her irresistibly engaging persona, two bound collections of her columns were published. The first, An ABC For Mothers, was published in 1955 by Simon & Schuster and combined Betsy’s talents with those of Charlotte Heimann. Later, Grossett & Dunlap published How to Amuse and Outwit Important People Under 10. Betsy’s writing brought her a measure of celebrity, certainly, but she shows no sense of self-importance. “Oh,” she says, looking at Bob, “We’ve certainly had some fun, haven’t we?”
The fun has included a few more books: Several years ago, Betsy combined talents with a couple of friends to produce Come Fly With Me, an illustrated children’s book of poetry about Sanibel Island, a favorite respite off the coast of Ft. Myers, Florida. Most recently, Betsy created A Sun Valley Journal, a charming book filled with her paintings of well-known events and locations here in the Valley. The book signings were attended by more members of the Pearson clan—son Ridley was there with his newly released novel, Peter and the Starcatchers, along with his daughter, Paige, the muse behind Ridley’s story.
A walk through the Pearson home reveals examples of Betsy’s work that haven’t been bound between covers. Her landscape paintings are unmistakably Idaho scenes, most certainly painted by someone who has closely observed, over a considerable length of time, the light and color here. They are infused with the very spirit of the places they represent. And that reveals something else about Betsy—she is a keen witness of more than just the visual. Her love of the scenes she paints brings to her work a nearly tangible presence. Somehow, she has painted the sound of red-winged blackbirds in the willows along Silver Creek.>>>