Betsey Bates, 1956
Paper Doll Illustrator, Painted in 3-D, Oil on Masonite
By now, those who have been reading my posts have come to know that I like things that are a little out of the ordinary. A couple of years ago in Brimfield, Mass., I spotted these portraits amongst the wares of a dealer that I had come to know through many shows - a dealer who always had unique and intriguing things. I was sitting in my booth minding my own business, (David would say that was a rare moment in time or not to be believed) when ... oh... about 100 yards away - give or take alot (I have no sense of distance) I saw these portraits propped up against Mike's van. They sure looked like something I should check out. They seemed rather curious and after contemplating as to whether I should continue this unusual act of minding my own business or being nosey, I .... well you can imagine what happened. I was only going to look, had no intention of buying anything, and besides I really needed to go down and say "hello" to Mike - wouldn't want him to think I was being unfriendly and what would it hurt if I just happened to take a look at his "stuff" while I was there. After all, if I hadn't of looked, it might have caused him to have some kinda weird image complex - like he might think that he had nothing interesting to look at - and I sure wouldn't want him to feel that way, being the great dealer that he is. So, just to be nice - I looked at the portraits. He smiled when he saw my face, he knew I had to have them, and he knew he was about to make a sale! About that time, David, aka party pooper, walks up. I showed him the portraits, explained how much I loved them and wanted to buy them. Can you believe he actually thought I was joking? He reminded me that we had come to sell, not to buy, and particularly not to buy anything to keep. I was just devastated - well maybe that's a little too much drama - but it was close. Well, all afternoon I thought about those portraits. I kept looking at them, longing for them, lusting (well maybe not lusting) for them. David kept a watchful eye. He refused to go to the bathroom or get something to eat for fear that when he came back he would be the proud owner of a pair of portraits. I convinced him that I had to go tell Mike that I wasn't going to take them, I couldn't just leave him hanging. Now here comes the confession.... I told Mike I would take the portraits - but I needed for him to take them home, then I would send a check, and then he could mail them to me. I would figure out what to tell David when the portraits arrived. That gave me about a week to convince him that we should call Mike back and buy the portraits. Of course, when I got home I immediately mailed the check - I was working hard on David at this point because I knew those portraits were coming when Mike got that check. He just would not budge. Weeeeellll... Mike got the check and sent me an email that he had shipped the paintings. I had been checking my email every five seconds for several days after I had mailed the check. You see, we have a blackberry and David has it. If I don't catch the emails on the computer before they come in on the blackberry then David gets them first. I was sweating it - I mean really sweating it. Now, I had to somehow convince him we should buy those paintings or I was just going to have to tell him. One afternoon, about a day before they were to arrive, while sitting out on the front porch I decided to just tell him the truth - so I did. I had never lied to him before in the 13 years - no 14 - is it 13 or 14 - 1995 - 14 this April, since we have been married - except for the teeny tiny one when a tie down strap blew up out of the back of the truck and got wrapped around the drive shaft. When it broke, it flew up and dented the side of the truck. My mother was with me and we acted like we didn't know what happened. But, somehow he knew what had happened. It was my mother who told me to lie about it and it was tiny so it doesn't count - right LOL? I felt terrible telling him how I had gone behind his back and bought these portraits and how I was sorry that I had not told him, and I was just going on and on about it. He started laughing - here I was pouring out my heart to him about how horrible I felt and he was laughing. Can you believe it? When I asked him what he found so humorous about all this, he pulled out the blackberry and said, "I got the email days ago that they are on the way." He never let on that he knew, he loved watching me sweat it out. He really is a wonderful husband, even though he has no appreciation for great art (just kidding about the art thing). I am so laughing right now just thinking about this!
Betsey was a famous paper doll illustrator for McCall's & other
popular publications. Remember the paper dolls that you cut out
of magazines as a child? I'm not sure if these portraits are her own
self expression or if they were a part of her illustrative work. They
are painted in 3-D. Perhaps they were her children.