Whenever I list an item in my vintage shop, I like to do a little research to learn more about it. Sometimes what I find out makes me fall in love with it and think twice about parting with it.
When I came across these Betsey Clark postcards, featuring her sad-looking children with raggedy clothes and messy hair, I instantly remembered Betsey’s artwork from my childhood.
I had puzzles, decorations, and a silk Christmas ornament all emblazoned with her signature “waifs.” Betsey Clark’s images were everywhere, so I never gave them a second thought or wondered how her style came about.
But after learning more about her, I have a new appreciation for her work as an adult. Her work was everywhere because the world was embracing her less-than-perfect waifs with their torn, patched clothes and slightly messy hair.
In fact, according to an article on The Betseyzone, “Betsey’s success can be traced to her stubborn refusal to give up the unique way she portrays children.” In Betsey’s own words, “Children don’t sit around all the time with every hair in place and big grins on their faces…They wear clothes with patches, they play, they get a little dirty.”
Betsey’s art teachers, however, disagreed. “I got kicked out of several art classes…I couldn’t make a passing grade. I guess I was too full of imagination — I couldn’t figure out those mechanical techniques.”
Betsey’s designs were discovered by Hallmark in 1962 and have weathered the tests of time. Her little waifs are still collectible and still represent the way children really play and live.
Although Betsey passed away in 1987, I love this quote that explains how she spent her days:
“On a typical day she rises at three in the morning and works until “it’s time to eat.” Then she feeds squirrels and birds at her back door or walks briskly to a nearby park for a three-mile canter. ”
Aside from getting up at 3am, it sounds like the perfect day to me!
(Quotes used with permission from The Betseyzone)