Roughly 200 lovers of art, nature and books lined up at Indigo Books at Signal Hill on Nov. 12 to meet iconic Canadian artist Robert Bateman.
The artist was on a 10-day book-signing tour for his new book, Life Sketches: A Memoir, which sold out within two hours. The memoir features sketches from his earlier days, including multiple drawings of a short-eared owl. He wrote about an owl he rescued and named Howland, who became the subject of many sketches.
The line wrapped around the length of the store, which was abuzz with patrons sharing stories of how Bateman’s captivating work, both as an artist and nature conservation spokesperson, had moved them.
Bateman, who has been painting lifelike landscape and wildlife images for nearly 50 years, explores his love of nature and former years in his new book.
“Before I was 12, my parents had given me several bird books,” he wrote. “I knew the calls, colours and the place in the canopy preferred by particular predators and songbirds.”
Bateman, a resident of Salt Spring Island near Victoria, B.C., described how “most children start drawing at the age of three and quit before they’re 10.” He never stopped. At 85 years old, Bateman still paints everyday. Over the span of his career, he has produced countless illustrations and at least six books dedicated to his artwork.
Life Sketches covers Bateman’s perspective on all things living, spectacular moments and cherished memories throughout his life that inspired his creative process.
The success of Bateman’s paintings allows him to advocate for nature conservancy and the environment – a cause close to his heart. He is widely hailed as a “hero” by conservation communities because of his support and pro-nature philosophies.
A true artist of nature in the wild, Bateman urges young people to explore the outdoors and gain an understanding of its beauty.
I knew the calls, colours and the place in the canopy preferred by particular predators and songbirds. – Robert Bateman
Lila Stephenson, a retired schoolteacher who patiently waited to have three copies of Life Sketches signed for family members, said she admires Bateman’s artistic inspiration on youth.
“He encourages children to get outdoors and experience nature, like we did when we were kids, before it’s gone,” she said.