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  • Call for Art – 12th Annual “Seascapes” Online Art Competition

    Location: Santa Fe, NM

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • 8th Annual Leaves & Petals Art Competition

    Location: Santa Fe, NM

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 8th Annual Leaves & Petals art competition..
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  • Art Show:

    Location: Truro, NS

    Visual Voice Fine Art presents 'SUMMER' June 20- July 16, 2022. Open Monday, Wednesday,..
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  • Art instructors needed in Calgary

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Calling for Calgary based artists. Become our hosting artists to gain exposure, income..
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  • Art of Zhen Shan Ren International Exhibition

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Art of Zhen Shan Ren International Exhibition consists of works from internationally..
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  • Old & New: A Solo Exhibit by Robert Crosby

    Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

    The paintings of Robert Crosby will be on display in the Joyner Gallery..
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  • ASA Presents

    Location: Calgary, AB

    The Alberta Society of Artists is proud to present “Asian Roots Trio”, a..
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  • ASA Presents

    Location: Calgary, AB

    The Alberta Society of Artists is proud to present “Meditation”, a solo show..
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  • Gallery Ring ARTISTS OF THE MONTH Contest

    Location: , ON

    Gallery Ring announces the ARTISTS OF THE MONTH contest. A RUBY, SAPPHIRE, EMERALD..
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  • “Summer” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline August 31, 2022

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Summer of the soul, summer thunder, summer wine, summer fling, summer..
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  • John Lennard - Exhibition opening June 17, 2022

    Location: Haliburton, ON

    John Lennard is known for his vivid landscape paintings. A serene summer sunset,..
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  • Exhibition: Common Ground

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    In this exhibition, Sara-Jeanne Bourget, Robin Gleason and Mark Johnsen explore the layers..
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  • New Edition – online art exhibition

    Location: Brooklyn, NY

    Applications are now open for our online exhibition “New Edition”- an investigation into..
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  • Beacon Original Art Call for Submissions

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Painters, sculptors, photographers, ceramic, glass, jewelry and textile artists are encouraged to APPLY..
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  • Landscape Reflections: Solo Exhibit by Marilyn Cochrane

    Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

    The Niagara-on-the-Lake artist, Marilyn Cochrane, celebrates the natural world in a more encompassing..
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  • Repair Landmark

    Location: Fredericton, NB

    Hello, Looking for a skilled artisan able to repair our farming community's landmark. ..
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  • Call for artworks: Canada-China-Australia exchange

    Location: ,

    Led by Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in collaboration with the Sino-Canada Alliance..
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  • STILL WITH US: Floyd Kuptana at Gallery Arcturus

    Location: Toronto, ON

    STILL WITH US: Celebrating the artist Floyd Kuptana, 1964 -2021. Works in stone, paint,..
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  • Looking for hosting artists, Calgary based

    Location: Calgary, AB

    If you are a Calgary-based artist who is interested to gain exposure to..
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  • Commonwealth Artists' Prize

    Location: ,

    In Brief We are calling for entries from artists who are: 1) A..
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  • Check Jooble for Art related Jobs

    Location: Ottawa, ON

    Looking for a job in the ARTS in Canada? We have thousands of..
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Robert Bateman - Part 1 of 2

By Robert Amos June 17, 2004

} Robert Bateman - Part 1 of 2 By Robert Amos ArtSpring, Salt Spring Island’s centre for the performing and visual arts, is host to a preview exhibition by Robert Bateman. Bateman lives on Saltspring and is presenting 40 of his original works there, from June 4 to 20, 2004. For information try www.artspring.ca or call (250) 537-2102 1-866-537-2102 (toll-free) 100 Jackson Ave., Salt Spring Island, B.C. V8K 2V8 Bateman There was no mistaking him. With sandy hair and piercing blue eyes, he looked much younger than his 74 years. On an overcast Saltspring Island morning, he met me outside his studio door with hand extended: “Bob Bateman,” he said by way of introduction. We swept past the garden glade and into the hive of activity which is his studio. Bateman was not alone. Alex Fischer, the self-described “dragon at the gate”, controlled the nerve centre; Kate Carson’s desk in the corner was business-like; Birgit Bateman, Robert’s wife, hovered over a series of her colour photos, some of which were recently published by National Geographic as illustrations to Peter Matthiessen’s book on Antarctica. Clearly, the world of Robert Bateman is a group undertaking. A high-school teacher until the age of 46, Bateman could hardly restrain his instinct to show and tell. I’d come to see his paintings - virtually everything he’s done in the past three years -which are now on show at ArtSpring on Saltspring Island. Bateman’s last show was at the Peninsula Gallery in Sidney in 2001. That was a preview of work destined for a gallery Johannesberg, South Africa. The paintings displayed on Saltspring Island will shortly be seen at Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico Bateman set out an easel under the skylight, placed a settee near by, and the paintings were stacked in order of size close at hand. “We’ll start with the smallest,” he began, and slipped a masonite panel onto the easel. It was a picture of a wee mouse slipping down a branch, a design that clearly owed something to Japanese art. Bateman is a practiced showman, and he after some comments, tossed the first painting casually onto the floor beside him. It was replaced by a slightly larger one, a grey fox, rim-lit, seen against a grey stone canyon wall. Bateman is the leading wildlife artist in the world. Because of his fame and success, there is a tendency to judge his work and his opinions with unrelenting criticism. It’s likely he has become a wealthy man from the proceeds of the sale of prints of his work. And he uses the attention his paintings attract to create a platform for his articulate and unrelenting views about conservation of the natural world. These are all contentious issues, but I confess that, after two hours in his studio, his skills, his philosophy and his personality disarmed me completely. I found him a hard-working painter creating pictures that mean a lot to him. He works in the only style he can. What’s not to like? While my thoughts wandered, Bateman was at the easel, running his hands over one of his paintings. He was talking about “happy accidents”, and heaping praise on Hornby Island artist David Barker. He noted Barker’s photographic memory and his boat-building skills, but what he really envied is the way Barker “lets physics and chemistry do the work”. Bateman knows that a controlling and detailed expression is not all there is to painting. Barker and Bateman are part of the Artists for Nature Foundation, an international group inspired on the Carmannah project which did so much to save our first-growth forest some years ago. The attention a group of painters can bring to a threatened region is surprisingly effective. Next Bateman put on the easel a view of his father’s woodpile at the family cottage on Boshkung Lake in Ontario. I mentioned that he integrates animals into their context so well that we must become deeply engaged in each picture, searching for the subject. “I don’t want to go Where’s Waldo,” he confessed. I confess, I had been gazing at the image of the woodpile for at least 30 seconds before I spied an ermine in the centre foreground! I spotted the ermine, but realized that there was much more. Bateman’s father’s footsteps in the snow, and the way the old man tucked spare bits of lumber up under the roof... “He was a real putterer-about”, Bateman recalled fondly. That way of hiding subject within context is the way Bateman writes. He recently proposed a book of overtly political paintings to his publisher. The text he offered was, he told me, “just ranting - being a teacher”. The publisher counseled him to calm down and just tell stories. Good advice, I’d say, but inevitably there will be a passionate conservation message tucked inside the engaging anecdote. Another panel appeared on the easel - a blue thrush posed against an ancient adobe wall. Bateman took delight in revealing his methods. “That bird wasn’t there,” he noted, “and the wall wasn’t blue.” In fact, it was a thrush of a different species which he brought out of his freezer to model for the subject. And as to photographs, he’s not coy. “I use from 5 to 50 photographs on the average painting,” he explained. There are many who disparage the “photo realism” of which he is a master. But that’s not what makes his art so effective. “The essence of art is a sense of mystery,” he offered, quoting Hermann Hesse. “Colville knows that,” he continued, and went on to describe his favourite of Alex Colville’s early works, a picture of a horse running along a railway track toward a locomotive. Then he told me the tale of his most famous painting. It’s a black wolf on a black background. When he sent it to the publisher of his prints, Mill Pond Press in Florida, they sent it back. “The eyes have no pupils,” they pointed out. “And it’s too dark - nobody likes darkness”. Their biology expert commented that “the legs are too long”. Bateman returned it without change. Eventually they printed it, to everlasting acclaim. And those eyes? Bateman recalled that they inspired by Disney’s Fantasia. The monster in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of that film has no pupils in his glowing green eyes. By now the pile of paintings he had tossed in a pile on the floor beside me must have been worth a million dollars. But to the man who made them they were rough and ready and sufficiently durable. The muted hues of the next picture before us represented cow-paths, zig-zags in frozen grass beside a split rail fence. As we examined it. Bateman scraped away at the surface with his fingernail, trying to dislodge a bit of paint that seemed to stand out a bit. Painterly mishaps happen sometimes, to someone who invests so much time creating a believable sense of texture. He showed me a “grungy” paint roller he uses. “Don’t wash it - leave the acrylic in it,” Bateman advised. “ Then roll it and twist it and smear it.” He darted off to grab a chunk of distressed sponge and proceeded to dab away at a one of the pictures, to demonstrate “the B. S. M.” - the Bateman Sponge Method. Like many an artist, he’s rather attached to the early stages of his work. Bateman often “starts in, hoping I can leave it alone. I’d like to do a whole show of big abstract paintings that look like my paintings when they are just half-done.” Yet he can’t seem to hold back. “I go back in, “ he sighed, “like trimming a hedge - or a moustache.” Despite what his critics say, his paintings are not simply about verisimilitude. And they aren’t only about mystery. He has a message. “I want to give reasons to celebrate,” he told me. “Why should we care about the natural world? That’s what I’m trying to show. In a trite way I want to show how beautiful and varied the world is.” Take his work as a whole and you’ll see his is not simply a saccharine sentiment. “In my letters and writing I show the dark side,” he insisted. (You can find this ‘dark side’ for yourself at www.batemanideas.com). In this remarkable balancing act between love and anger, the power of one side gives force to the other. Next on view was a painting of a big cat on the margins of a swamp fire among the Florida palm trees. Most of the picture was smoky, and the artist expatiated on his love for middle tones. Black and white almost never occur in a Bateman painting. “The secret to my work is tiny adjustments in tone,” he noted. So that’s his secret! As if to demonstrate the fact, next he showed me a canvas one metre square. “You perhaps know of my love for Mark Rothko’s paintings,” he murmured. The top two thirds were painted a rich charcoal grey, and a black bear loomed out of the darkness. Nothing in this dark painting even approaches a true black. The bear’s eyes, ears and nose - “black” in nature - were a mid-tone, like the rest of the picture. The darkness was implied by those “tiny adjustments in tone.” www.robertbateman.ca www.batemanideas.com www.artspring.ca www.robertbateman.ca/bfb/bfb.html ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2004Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B.C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com

Notice Board

SUBMIT View

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Today's notices

  • Call for Art – 12th Annual “Seascapes” Online Art Competition

    Location: Santa Fe, NM

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
    View notice

  • 8th Annual Leaves & Petals Art Competition

    Location: Santa Fe, NM

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 8th Annual Leaves & Petals art competition..
    View notice

  • Art Show:

    Location: Truro, NS

    Visual Voice Fine Art presents 'SUMMER' June 20- July 16, 2022. Open Monday, Wednesday,..
    View notice

  • Art instructors needed in Calgary

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Calling for Calgary based artists. Become our hosting artists to gain exposure, income..
    View notice

  • Art of Zhen Shan Ren International Exhibition

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Art of Zhen Shan Ren International Exhibition consists of works from internationally..
    View notice

  • Old & New: A Solo Exhibit by Robert Crosby

    Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

    The paintings of Robert Crosby will be on display in the Joyner Gallery..
    View notice

  • ASA Presents

    Location: Calgary, AB

    The Alberta Society of Artists is proud to present “Asian Roots Trio”, a..
    View notice

  • ASA Presents

    Location: Calgary, AB

    The Alberta Society of Artists is proud to present “Meditation”, a solo show..
    View notice

  • Gallery Ring ARTISTS OF THE MONTH Contest

    Location: , ON

    Gallery Ring announces the ARTISTS OF THE MONTH contest. A RUBY, SAPPHIRE, EMERALD..
    View notice

  • “Summer” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline August 31, 2022

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: Summer of the soul, summer thunder, summer wine, summer fling, summer..
    View notice

  • John Lennard - Exhibition opening June 17, 2022

    Location: Haliburton, ON

    John Lennard is known for his vivid landscape paintings. A serene summer sunset,..
    View notice

  • Exhibition: Common Ground

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    In this exhibition, Sara-Jeanne Bourget, Robin Gleason and Mark Johnsen explore the layers..
    View notice

  • New Edition – online art exhibition

    Location: Brooklyn, NY

    Applications are now open for our online exhibition “New Edition”- an investigation into..
    View notice

  • Beacon Original Art Call for Submissions

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Painters, sculptors, photographers, ceramic, glass, jewelry and textile artists are encouraged to APPLY..
    View notice

  • Landscape Reflections: Solo Exhibit by Marilyn Cochrane

    Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

    The Niagara-on-the-Lake artist, Marilyn Cochrane, celebrates the natural world in a more encompassing..
    View notice

  • Repair Landmark

    Location: Fredericton, NB

    Hello, Looking for a skilled artisan able to repair our farming community's landmark. ..
    View notice

  • Call for artworks: Canada-China-Australia exchange

    Location: ,

    Led by Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in collaboration with the Sino-Canada Alliance..
    View notice

  • STILL WITH US: Floyd Kuptana at Gallery Arcturus

    Location: Toronto, ON

    STILL WITH US: Celebrating the artist Floyd Kuptana, 1964 -2021. Works in stone, paint,..
    View notice

  • Looking for hosting artists, Calgary based

    Location: Calgary, AB

    If you are a Calgary-based artist who is interested to gain exposure to..
    View notice

  • Commonwealth Artists' Prize

    Location: ,

    In Brief We are calling for entries from artists who are: 1) A..
    View notice

  • Check Jooble for Art related Jobs

    Location: Ottawa, ON

    Looking for a job in the ARTS in Canada? We have thousands of..
    View notice

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