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Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 15:54 UK
Llandudno retrospective for wildlife artist Betty Mills
Dog rose
Betty likes to draw wild flowers in their natural setting

After drawing and embroidering for most of her 80 years, wildlife artist Betty Mills is clearing the decks with an exhibition and sale of her work at The Tabernacle, Llandudno.

"I'm going to be slowing down. I've been doing it for a long time," she said. "I was three when my granddad taught me to draw!"

Betty worked as a college lecturer and a designer for Marks and Spencer before retiring to Llandudno 20 years ago and becoming fascinated by the area's flora and fauna.

Since then she has been drawing, painting and embroidering, with wildflowers her most popular subjects.

"I thought I'd be more interested in the birds when we came here, but wandering about I just noticed so many lovely flowers," she explained.

"I'm always drawn to dog roses, bramble roses and those sorts of flowers. There's something very beautiful about them.

"Wild orchids really take your breath away, too, but you have to sit in the grass to draw those because you can't pick them."

Embroidered cockerel
The art sale will aid St David's Hospice and Pensychnant Nature Reserve

Betty likes to draw flowers in the context of other plants which would naturally grow beside them in the wild.

"In some books I've done, I've had to put flowers together that don't grow near each other in nature. But usually I like to encourage people to go out and enjoy things as they are meant to be: growing in the walls of a town or in the cracks of paving stones.

"I once did a celebration of weeds because it suddenly struck me how many I'd thrown away. A weed is only a herb growing where it's not wanted."

She's also put her design background to use by helping church needlework groups creating wall hangings, banners and altar cloths. One of her favourites hangs at the St David's Hospice chapel in Llandudno.

Bracken
There will be two afternoon talks by Betty Mills

She advises young artists to go to college and get trained, but believes you're never to old to learn.

"If you're older, look at other people's work and find out as much as you can in reference libraries. Then keep at it - and don't be afraid to tear up your work and start again," she says.

Betty's exhibition is at the Tabernacle Chapel (The Old Bank Gallery), Upper Mostyn Street, Llandudno, throughout May. She also has work on show at the Pensychnant Conservation Centre and Nature Reserve, near Conwy.




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