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The Art & Influence of Robert Bateman

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The Art & Influence of Robert Bateman


“The world would be a better place if everyone was a birdwatcher.”

— Robert Bateman


A guest blog from The Robert Bateman Centre


Robert Bateman has long been recognized for his profound influence on both art and conservation. At eighty-eight years old, he continues to paint while also being an advocate for the public to have a personal and informed relationship to the natural world.


From an early age, he explored the ravine behind his backyard, beginning a lifelong process of capturing the natural world through art. Some of his earliest remaining works feature the birds in his backyard, as he developed a lifelong love of birdwatching. He spent an important part of his youth at the Royal Ontario Museum exploring its collections, and several summers at a wildlife research station in Algonquin Park. After receiving his degree in Geography from the University of Toronto, he became a teacher of art and geography as well as a world traveller reaching all continents of the globe with his sketchbook.


During his time as a teacher he was also involved with the Niagara Escarpment Commission, dedicated to saving the Escarpment and creating a public footpath along the now-protected Biosphere Reserve.


Many artists have been inspired by his attitude of respect to the particularities of nature and his artistic imagination. Using a combination of his scientific appreciation for nature, and his background in impressionism, abstract art, and realism, he explores details of texture and shading while creating expressive moments in time.


Robert Bateman with Jane Goodall in 2016, © Monica Reekie


Along with a group of fellow artists, Bateman was involved in a project to save the Carmanah rainforest. This cathedral-like ecosystem of old-growth trees was in danger of being logged, but as a form of protest these artists camped in the forest and created pieces of art to raise media awareness. The forest was eventually saved from destruction and a book was published with the finished art, spreading an appreciation for the irreplaceable ecosystem of Carmanah to the public.


He has been a strong supporter of the Artists for Conservation Festival since its inception, a multi-day event immersing the public in art and nature, with an emphasis on the individual’s ability to take action.


Today, he and his family live on Salt Spring Island and have created the Bateman Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation with the goal of engaging people of all ages with nature through the lens of art. Its main programming focus, Nature Sketch, invites adults and youth to explore the natural world using a pencil and a sketchbook, in the same way that Robert Bateman started his journey.


To learn more about the work of Robert Bateman and the Bateman Foundation, visit


Get the book:


 Robert Bateman: Birds

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