michele batchelder - professional artist in cape town
i am an artist, i have breathed art, dreamed art and done art since i was about 3yrs old.....so that is a long long time. i was born in the desert of namibia in august 1958 and some how still remember the millions of pink flamingos on the white beaches. i must have been about 18moths old then.......... hey! i think the pink thing must have started then.....maybe........just thought of that now! LOL my father was promoted from the walvis bay where he was worked on the tugs, to cape town as a tug master, so for the next 5 or so years we lived in cape town where i have lots of family. this is where i remember my first drawing experience. my dad and uncle spent hours encouraging my 'talent'. i spent hours doodling with a ballpoint pen loving the attention and encouragement. i got my first oil paints at the age of five and just loved painting! @ 6 i started my school career at monte vista primary school, but was only there for my first year and once again my dad got transferred, this time to durban. most of my life was spent in KZN where at the age of 15 i began a 3 yr fine art course, which i completed in 1976. although i continued to paint and do all sorts of arty and crafty stuff, my career really only began after i had had my two gorgeous kids.... who are now 27 and 24. around 1989 life threw a few curved balls my way and i was forced to either go out and find a 'job' or create my own income from what i knew i could do.....leaving my kids to fend for themselves was not an option in my books, and so, i embarked on my career as a professional artist. now most would accuse me of taking the easy way out! or tell me im lucky!.... yes! i am lucky! i can paint, and i do make a living out of it..... but i had to learn lots more 'stuff'.... like marketing....promoting.....and all the things any company does to sell any product... basically you have to be jack of all trades and master them all! now i m certainly not complaining... i LOVE my job, wouldnt have it any other way! no traffic jams, usually no alarm clocks... but i still put in at least 12hrs or so a day which is more than most people i know.... once i had started painting, and sold the first few little paintings i had done... and being the Virgo that i am, i decided i had to create my very own distinctive style... something which was recognisable as my work..........done............ok ..... and now different....... i was amazed at how everything out there seemed to be so much the same.... or maybe rather the same type of art. there was nothing that really stood out as different.......and im certainly NOT saying there was no good art out there... there is tons of great art! great artists... so talented that your toes curl when you see their beautiful artwork..... but nothing different ! so i played and painting and played some more and FINALLY purely by accident "it" happened! something id visualised since the age of 12.... i did it! LOL YAY! i think, being a true "born to be" artist means you head works 24/7/365... you never really stop 'working'.................... its like you see/hear/touch things which spark an idea and then you roll it around like a pin ball in your head .... until POW! and then finally you put it on a canvas! anyway... while all this 'stuff' is going on....life happens and i progressed for the 'craft market' scene to the 'exhibition' scene.... my kids grow up ...... curved balls periodically land on my head and decisions are made and life suddenly changes again. i decided that i was moving to cape town.... going 'home'.... ahem....... well the one i remembered anyway.... so off i trotted down the n3/n1 to kaap stad! it was one of the best moves id had ever made.... wow! i am LOVING my new life here! i am totally inspired my the wide open spaces of the west cost... the stark landscapes which explode into colour in spring..... the turquoise, aqua, cobalt, azure, etc etc etc of the sea. the wind that transforms the shape and the direction of growth of a tree! (they all look like they're heading north....fast!) thr33 and 3/4 years down the line, and.... i have a gallery....a small one on the beach........ i have rented stunning apartment, where i can gaze at the ocean, and smell the salt air and have (almost) uninterrupted views of the sea and robben island ........... and those o so awesome sunsets! OMG these are to die for! ... yes you may be jealous! thats fine!..... i have a great circle of friends, and consume buckets of red juice! i am a capetonian! my patio is my studio.... so summer is wonderful.... winter a little fresh, but plans get made. i can gaze at the ocean and paint all day... way into the evening. i have also started teaching....different classes to all the existing ones around. most teachers insist that the student starts from scratch... um....like...'draw a circle...shade the circle' stuff...........now if you are, say 45ish, all you really want to do is PAINT.... not go back to school! well, i am generalising...... there might be one or two who want to start from scratch, but most of my students have been to one or more of the teachers around and are so frustrated that after 6mths they are still drawing and shading circles! UGH!... so i started doing private one on one classes. i daresay, id make more money doing groups, but space is somewhat of an issue, or was up until recently. my students manage to produce a painting with in about 6 - 8 hours of classes and have their own art work hanging in their homes...... it is so cool to see how proud they are of themselves! i had to restrict my teaching days to two a week and am full on both days with waiting lists! now that my space issue has been kinda sorted, i will be starting small workshops from next month too. i find it really rewarding...... and sometimes quite a challenge.......... i had a short experience working in an art supply store......... not my favourite, but everything happens for a reason.......... i discovered many new exciting products and had the opportunity to test new products for manufacturers and suppliers. i built relationships with people who make paint.....which is a good thing in my business! my work started to change drastically! every brush stroke, splash, dribble caused more excitement than the last! solvents, oils, enamels, resins, acrylics..... name it......i use it! i am once again having so mush of fun! it feels new and fresh and well........ gooooood!