"I want to paint like the bird sings..." Claude Monet
Midway through her college career, Betty Gatewood changed her interest from laboratory science to the “outdoor” sciences of ecology and natural history; she’s been outdoors ever since ~ observing, hiking, skiing, teaching, learning, sharing, documenting, journaling, and painting.
Instead of presenting the perfect specimen, Betty paints it as it is – the torn and tattered American chestnut leaves, the bug-eaten witch-hazel leaves, a foggy mountain snow-scape, or the austere grace of a dried winter mint. Her perfection is the perfection of the survivor.
Betty provided the cover art for Virginia’s Mountain Treasures, published by The Wilderness Society, and for the Virginia Native Plant Society’s Wildflower of the Year brochures for 2009 and 2013. She has contributed illustrations for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Junior Ranger Booklet and Virginia Department of Forestry’s book, Common Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of Virginia. She has co-conducted local art and journaling workshops for teachers, as well as Shenandoah National Park visitors. She has exhibited her Appalachian Trail/travel journals at Staunton Public Library and her botanical art at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond. Her witch hazel illustration was on display at the US Botanic Garden in Washington, DC, along with 70 other botanical art images from US National Parks to commemorate the Centennial of the National Park Service. This Flora of the National Parks exhibit was on display in the West Gallery of USBG until January, 2017.
After teaching middle school for several years, and being the Teacher-in-Residence at Mary Baldwin College with Dr. Tamra Willis under a NOAA grant , Betty enjoyed being an Education and Interpretative Park Ranger in Shenandoah National Park. She is now an active member of Potomac Appalachian Trail Club; her passion is to provide opportunities for anyone to get outside to experience, observe, analyze and document the natural world through art and journaling.
Frequently on her outdoor ramblings, she is accompanied by her husband Mark, and avid outdoors-man, who often suggests particular subjects to document with her art. Her rambles near and far have provided many inspirations for her journals and art ~ the Shenandoah Valley, Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, and New England are her favorite places to experience and document the beauties and intricacies of the natural world.
A family connection...
A book that she and her father-in-law, Vernon L. Gatewood wrote and published, Kriegie 7956 – A World War II Bombardier’s Pursuit of Freedom, chronicles Vernon’s POW experiences in World War II. The book is told through Vernon’s words, documents and remembrances as he recounts his experiences to his granddaughter, Betsy, (Betty and Mark's daughter). Betty, with teaching colleague Linda Petzke, wrote a curriculum guide for use of the book in middle school social studies and language arts classes. Classroom sets of Kriegie 7956 are used in several Virginia middle schools during World War II studies.