MOUNT DESERT — About 40 aspiring painters from around New England and beyond spent much of last week in art classes at Betty Allen’s home and barn-turned-studio near the head of Somes Sound.
Allen is president of the Northeast region of Teachers & Educators of Art Material (TEAM) and has led TEAM seminars such as the one last week for more than 20 years.
Allen was the cook on the Maine Sea Coast Mission’s boat, Sunbeam, for 35 years and is married to David Allen, one of the boat’s former captains. Her first art students were school children on some of the outer islands that Sunbeam routinely visited.
“I taught on the boat as much as I could instead of going to the schools,” she said. “They just had to bring their bodies out, but I’d have had to take my body plus (art supplies) to the school. It was fun.”
Allen calls teaching “one of the loves of my life.”
She paints and teaches others to paint in oil, watercolor, acrylics and pastels. In addition to teaching in her home studio, she has taught on cruise ships and at seminars around the country.
Art teachers from Massachusetts, Indiana and Georgia joined Allen in leading the TEAM seminar classes last week. Most of the students appeared to be middle aged or older, as were the teachers. Allen is 80.
She said that demographic reality is reflected in a decrease in TEAM membership nationally in recent years.
“We used to be much bigger, but the older people are dropping out, and the younger people aren’t that interested in what we do,” Allen said.
But her own enthusiasm for teaching art is as great as ever. She especially enjoys teaching beginners, she said, because “they are so excited when they learn.”