Interviews: Michelle’s Misadventures

I was pretty ambitious, and tried to directly contact Mr. Bateman via his commission inquiry email on my first attempt. But what I didn’t know was that his assistant responded the day that I sent the email! Somehow it got lost in my inbox and I only saw it today. I wish I had seen it earlier; she gave me some excellent information! But unfortunately we’ve already finished our speeches. Hopefully I can put some of the information to use in my learning center. This was the email I sent to him.

Dear Mr. Bateman,
I apologize for contacting you via your commission email but I could not find any other means to contact you. My name is Michelle and I am a student in the TALONS program. In our program, we have something called an Eminent Person Study, in which we select a person of our choice and also conduct an interview. I admire your work greatly, and would be truly honoured to conduct a brief interview to ask you a few questions. I would like to know about how and why you decided to become an artist, other career paths you have considered, and what made you who you are as an artist among many other questions. I would really appreciate it if you could respond as soon as possible.
*General gist of email.
Apparently his assistant Kate Brotchie saw the email, and apologized saying that Mr. Bateman was quite well booked so she answered the questions I had left in the email shown above.
He says that all little kids like art and nature but by age 12 they usually move on to other interests. He did not. After school, he’d come home and do art – the family sunroom was his studio in those school days. He was a teacher of geography and art until he was 46 years old and when he realized he had more income from art than teaching, switched to full-time art. He still loves teaching and will be at Robert Bateman Secondary School later this month. If he hadn’t become a painter, he would have considered being a landscape architect; he and his gardens were the subject of one episode of “Recreating Eden”.
He says that members of his generation are the aristocrats of time and place. He was born in 1930 and by the time he hit his mature period in the late 1960’s, people had more disposable income than in earlier times. The apex of his career was likely the sell-out show at the Smithsonian in 1987. His early books sold over a million copies. Now there is a lot more artists and more competition so that sort of success isn’t likely to be repeated.
Besides this, I also interviewed an artist that my mom’s friend knew, Min Ma. This interview had to be conducted in Mandarin via the phone so my mom helped out. I took down some notes on the conversation but of course it wasn’t word for word. Here is a link to that google doc if you want to look at that:
Overall, I did better than I expected since I actually got a response from the email I sent. My biggest regret was not finding the email earlier. Despite the title, I’d call this a success.

gif courtesy of

Annotated Biblography

These are the resources I used during our Eminent person study:

Robert Bateman’s Wikipedia page

I used Wikipedia as the baseline for the project even though it’s frowned upon. Not the most useful resource, but still a good place to start.

Robert Bateman’s website

Obviously, the first place I checked after Wikipedia was Robert Bateman’s website. It’s a little bit outdated, but I did get a lot of information from it seeing as it has several different pages on Bateman, some talking about his awards and achievements and some where he discussed painting. It was probably the most useful resource as well.

Thinking like a Mountain

A small book containing a collection of short writings and a few sketches by Robert Bateman. Some of them are anecdotes from his childhood, others are observations on the natural world and human life. Definitely helpful, as I got to learn about Robert Bateman’s thoughts.

Robert Bateman Birds – Hardcover

I decided to write the first speech draft based loosely around the experiences he described in this book. Other than those short snippets, this was definitely fun to flip through and admire Bateman’s art. It was mostly paintings but there were a few short pieces written by Bateman and some sketches. It was somewhat useful for the first draft of my speech but I ended up scrapping that one anyway.


I looked at the page introducing Robert Bateman. While short, it summed up Bateman quite nicely, talking about his purpose and hopes for future generations. It talked a bit about his Life Sketches tour as well. This was where I got the idea to talk about his message in my speech, so I guess it was slightly useful.

Bateman: New Works

This book, published in 2010, contains an artist’s statement and a short biography on Bateman as well as all the art pieces. Again, mostly art but still has a few short pieces interspersed. It was’t the first book I read, but the “About Robert Bateman” section at the start was pretty helpful.

So this is a website that sells art from world renowned artists. Unsurprisingly, Bateman’s art is on there, and some of his prints were being sold. It has a short description of Bateman and some of his art pieces, so I was using this website to find the titles of pieces I didn’t know the names of. It wasn’t that useful, I just used it for some minor details.




Night of the Notables: Until next year…

Wednesday November 16, I got to experience my first ever Night of the Notables. Honestly, it’s not like anything I’ve ever done in school before. For example, the sheer exhaustion of staying at school for about 14 hours. But at the same time, I’ve never seen anything on this scale. The genuine effort everyone put into their Learning Centers and research on their Eminent people was amazing.

Honestly, the time we had together felt really short. One second, the tens were delivering their fantastic speeches and the next an announcement over the speaker was telling us we only had ten minutes left. I got to meet a lot of cool people while everyone was looking at our learning centers. In fact, one person told me that they were best friends with Robert Bateman’s son when they lived in Ontario. Mrs. Quach, the jumpstART teacher, also chatted with me for a few minutes. I was glad to see that a lot of the people I met knew my Eminent person.

As memorable a night this was, a few moments really stuck out to me. Besides the tens speeches, and that amazing bow at the end, I remember a lot about the people I met at my learning center. Besides meeting someone who personally knew Robert Bateman, I remember the alumni coming, drilling me on questions which I answered to the best of my ability and complimenting my art. I was nervous at first, but as more and more people came, I was more confident and talked longer with each person.

I’d like to thank Phia, Deon, Maeve and Renee for being in the “artists corner” with me. Also thanks to Phia for bringing in the easel and Deon for bringing in the dollar store acrylics. It was really fun being around others with Eminent people in a similar field and it worked out pretty well. Thank you to all of the teachers for making the whole thing possible; without you guys we would have been terribly lost.

static image of my learning center taken with Deon's phone

images of my learning center taken with Deon’s phone


link to my learning center in action (exceeded upload size): https://r4—,expire,id,ip,ipbits,itag,lmt,mime,mm,mn,ms,mv,nh,pl,requiressl,sc,source&signature=1B6270DBF17BAEB21DB37509310A5AD10005BE4B.3B10D2E91D19F6CCDA0F214765D20C46FAE91F21&key=cms1&redirect_counter=1&cm2rm=sn-nx5e77s&req_id=ff79f477876a3ee&cms_redirect=yes&mm=34&mn=sn-vgqskn7l&ms=ltu&mt=1479699050&mv=m&nh=IgpwcjAxLnNlYTAzKgkxMjcuMC4wLjE

Sorry for all the backgroud noise; you probably can’t tell what I was trying to say. But basically I was just going through my learning center. I feel like this was a fun learning center to do because I got to draw a lot, which was technically one of my IEP goals; furthering my interest in art. I actually started painting a Bateman piece, not exatly as followup, but just because I like painting. I guess I met my goal in that sense, but I feel like I could’ve worked more on the presentation of my learning center. I focused more on all the technical aspects, such as filming the time-lapsed video of me drawing a bi

I’m not that happy with how I did on the speech either, but I have an entire year to improve on my public speaking skills and do better next year. Overall, I met most of my goals and this was really fun! Now I know what to expect so I’ll probably spend the summer working on it.

door close gif courtesy of


Michelle’s Misadventures: Opus edition

Opus opened in Coquitlam just recently, so I decided to pay the art store a little visit on Monday. Although Phia and Deon couldn’t make it today, I was glad that I got to go.

what I bought at opus :)

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get any pictures at Opus because I don’t have a camera. But I got what I was looking for: the Staedtler drawing pencils! I haven’t properly had a set of drawing pencils before, so I’m excited to draw a few more sketches. You probably can’t tell from the picture but that is a 0.3 mechanical pencil. It cost a pretty penny, but it was totally worth it.

The gel pens are for gold and silver accessories. I really like the Gelly Roll gel pens because they’re super smooth and look excellent with Copic markers. Speaking of Copic markers, I was disappointed to find there wasn’t any at Opus. Wait, I’ve lost most people already. This is the Copic Sketch.

image courtesy of

Yep, the marker you always dreamed of. You can probably see why I was disappointed that there wasn’t any there. But the other stuff definitely made up for it. There were some really nice Pilot pens and I almost impulse-bought a few. But they were $4 so I had to refrain.

I also got a smaller sketchbook for drawings in the field as well as small sketches at home. Funnily enough, I have a field set of Sakura Koi watercolour but all my watercolour paper is too large for it.

image courtesy of Media Lukis (my personal set’s a mess)

While I was waiting for my mom to pick Celine and I up, we did a quick sketch of the lamppost in the small sketchbook.

the drawing we did (collaboration)

Afterwards, I did several other sketches that will be on display at my learning center. All in all, I feel like that was a really fun day and I got what I was looking for (except the copic).

door close gif courtesy of