Written by Izzy Almasi
The iconic Canadian painter met Leiren-Young virtually to talk about his views on the importance of staying connected with the natural world and to share how his passions led him to a career in art.
“All little kids like art and nature. I’ve never met a little kid who doesn’t like art and nature. But most normal human beings grow up around the age of twelve and go on to more grown-up things and I just have not grown up yet,” says Bateman.
Taking a strong interest in art from a young age, Bateman saw painting as an opportunity to capture the beauty of the world around him, leading him to create stunning works of art that capture scenes of wildlife from every corner of the globe. In the interview, he discusses his experiences watching wildebeest in the Serengeti, penguins in the Antarctic and whales in the waters of BC.
“When you look at a piece [of art], it may be thought-provoking, but mostly I just paint what I love and that’s what all artists have done.”
Having recently celebrated his 90th birthday, Bateman continues to paint and create at his home on Salt Spring Island on Canada’s west coast.
As he talked with Leiren-Young, he was working on his latest project: an epic 4-foot by 12-foot scene of cranes at the Platte River in Nebraska — one of the biggest paintings he’s ever created.
“A lot of doing art and, I guess anything, is perspiration rather than inspiration. And not that this is perspiration. I’m just kind of sitting here dabbing away with gray paint on the wings of all these cranes,” he muses while continuing to paint.
The artist also discussed the work and origins of the Bateman Foundation, as well as how the Bateman Centre found its home overlooking Victoria’s inner harbour.
“Our mission is to promote the preservation and sustainability of the environment,” reads the opening statement on the Bateman Foundation’s website. “To achieve this goal, we maintain an art gallery to perpetuate, protect, enhance and promote the artistic and cultural legacy of nature-inspired artists, including Robert Bateman. We also support and develop educational programs relating to the environment and nature-inspired artists.”
For more information about the program and resources offered at the Bateman Centre and through the Foundation, be sure to check out their website at https://batemanfoundation.org.
To listen to the full interview visit www.skaana.org, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Be sure to tune in to Skaana for upcoming episodes featuring interviews with renowned ichthyologist Daniel Pauly, Paul Wohlleben, author of The Secret Life of Trees, animal rights expert and advocate, Marc Bekoff and more.