Paintings Come Alive
Artist Cammeron Batanides is inspired by subjects of her live paintings
Some of the best advice CAMMERON BATANIDES received was that as long as you “get” your art, just keep doing it. You’ve completed your mission. Your followers will get it too.
This is what her instructor at the time, ANN CONNOR, told Batanides when the student was concerned people wouldn’t understand the faceless images she painted in her portraits. Connor is a professor emerita at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s art and history department as well as a nationally acclaimed artist, specializing in woodcuts.
Connor was one of the many people at UNCW who have helped Batanides become who she is today, a full-time artist who is increasingly known for painting at live events, particularly musical events. She’s also a children’s book illustrator.
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen, Batanides says. She wasn’t even planning to go to college because she didn’t want to accumulate debt. Born and raised in Charlotte, she came to Wilmington to go to UNCW to study art after being convinced to do so.
And then magic happened.
She studied with and had great teachers, mentors, and school mates. Like Connor, they may not have created the type of art Batanides was creating, but they supported her in her vision and provided her the technical foundation to help her improve and grow. They boosted her self-esteem.
“Everything they taught me,” she recalls, “was invaluable.”
“Everything about it (going to school at UNCW) was pretty amazing and pretty special … I think that school shaped my career more so than anything else. If I hadn’t gone there, I don’t think my career would be what it is,” she says, oozing with gratitude. She left school around 2008.
Batanides allows her art to evolve, taking her along on the journey. She’s always worked in mixed media. She used to paint “super realistic” paintings, but now she says it’s more abstract and simpler. She primarily works in acrylics.
“It’s hard to let go and do something that’s based on reality, to create something without facial features,” Batanides says.
Some time ago, she decided to paint at a live event as a fundraiser for a friend. Batanides didn’t realize at the time that there had been live painters at events in the past.
“I didn’t even know that was a thing,” she recalls.
Soon after, she became proactive and started painting at live musical events. At first, she did it pro bono, but soon musicians started contacting her. In addition, since she’s so connected to the arts scene in Wilmington, she often reaches out to musicians to let them know of her talents.
Batanides brings followers she’s acquired to the events as well as her talents. She’s painted at events that feature musicians such as George Clinton, Edge Michael, Mike Franti, and Spearhead.
In addition, Batanides has delved into books having self-published and illustrated two children’s books about her beloved rescue pooch, Panda.
While her live painting was born out of working with musicians she knew she’s expanded her sphere.
Since COVID, Batanides has been painting people she knows who are just “amazing” and who inspire her in a multitude of ways.
“They don’t have to be musicians or artists to inspire me,” Batanides says.
Sometimes it’s their everyday acts of kindness in the community. For instance, AZARIAH SOLOMON, executive director and co-founder of the Northwest Youth Corps. Inc., was the subject of Batanides’ first painting of 2021. The organization provides educational support and resources for children in need.
COVID has actually accelerated her career, she says. She’s painting more. And since many people are limiting their social engagements, they’re online more.
“My art is really a celebration of the people that I know … people that make a difference in our community and people that are inspiring in what they do day-to-day.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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