Katy McGill grew up watching “The Golden Girls,” and admiring Betty White as she portrayed the fun yet sassy character, Rose Nylund.
Later in life, White kept that spunk, positive energy and attitude so many witnessed. So when news broke of her death on New Year’s Eve, McGill, along with many across the country, couldn’t believe it.
“Betty White is just such a strong woman to all of us,” McGill said. “It didn’t feel like she was 99 [years old]. She was so full of life.”
Just days after the news, the #BettyWhiteChallenge spread across social media platforms. With White being known for her love and passion for animals, the hashtag challenges users to find at least $5 to donate to a local animal shelter or rescue on Monday, Jan. 17 — which would have been White’s 100th birthday.
When McGill, a Forsyth County resident and now full-time artist, saw the challenge, she wanted to do more.
“I thought, well, why don’t I see if I can do better than taking $5 down there and see if anybody will bid on a portrait of her and at least get a portrait out of it,” she said.
With this idea in mind, McGill got to work on the painting.
The finished watercolor painting features Betty White’s character Rose from “The Golden Girls” clutching a small teddy bear. It was inspired by an episode where Rose grabs the teddy bear out of the hands of a little girl, aiming to teach the lesson that “sometimes life isn’t fair.”
“The picture itself I thought just captured the joy,” McGill said. “Because she brought us so much joy and laughter. That’s what I liked about it.”
The painting is 11 by 14 inches on Arches Watercolor cold press paper, and McGill is accepting bids on the original piece. To bid, those who are interested can message McGill through her Facebook page, Katy McGill Art, or Instagram @waterdabbles.
The individual with the highest bid by Jan. 17, will receive the painting, and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the Humane Society of Forsyth County.
“I’m so glad we have animal shelters like the Humane Society that are no-kill that will be able to provide homes so somebody can adopt them,” McGill said.
She said she also plans to add a 20% donation to other paintings for sale in her Etsy shop up until Jan. 17, hoping to raise as much as possible to the shelter.
The local artist began painting full-time after retiring from a career in the graphic design industry this past summer.
Before starting her career, she studied art at Young Harris College and the University of Georgia. Through school, she took part in art shows and participated in the Roswell Arts and Crafts Fair before eventually earning her art degree.
While she was focused on her career after school, McGill said she is excited to be able to get back into painting now, selling her favorite works in her Etsy shop and posting to her Facebook page and Instagram.
Most of all, she said she is grateful to have time to spend with her two boys and take part in giving back to the community.
She said this challenge was the perfect way for her to help give back and honor White’s life, and she hopes the Humane Society of Forsyth County sees a huge turnout on Jan. 17 with others coming out to make their own donations.
“We all love Betty,” McGill said. “We’re all going to miss her.”
For more information on the Humane Society of Forsyth County, visit www.forsythpets.org.