Live painting that captures the energy of the moment
By KIM HENRY
Fusing her life-long love of art with a deep connection to music, local artist Cammeron Batanides is Wilmington’s very own representative in the world of live painting - a growing trend across America and in the international Arts scene. Creating her projects in full view of the public eye at a wide range of music events, Batanides captures the magic of the moment with this improvised and spontaneous self-expression. Piano key sidewalks and cello style houses burst off the canvass, as her bold colors and vivacious abstract style reflects the vibrancy of the concerts she paints.
Born in Charlotte, Batanides passion for art was consistent throughout her childhood and eventually led her to UNCW where she studied fine art. Remaining in Wilmington following her graduation, Batanides met local musician Faith Coleman in 2007, and it wasn’t long before Batanides felt compelled to paint this aspiring pianist. “Faith had been asked to play at a charity event and so I said to her, I’d like to come and paint you while you work. We both loved it and have continued to work together ever since,” recalls Batanides, her smile as warm and welcoming as her animated work.
This initial collaboration stimulated her journey into the courageous world of live painting. Freeing art from the regular confines and privacy of a studio, live painting transforms the action of creating a picture into a kind of performance in itself, and not every artist is brave enough to step this far out of their comfort zone. But then again, Batanides is not every artist. “Music takes your brush in a different direction,” she smiles, “fuse this with the energy of all the people around you while you paint and it’s a unique experience. I am as inspired by the people as they are by me, and we’re all inspired by the music - it’s a full circle of energy.”
There’s no re-working something undesirable, or just starting again when an artist is painting live in the public arena, and it’s this connection with the public that particularly resonates with Batanides. She is all about bringing art into people’s lives, and into public places where no one expects to find it. Giving art a new social context is clearly very important to this energetic, young artist. “Live painting breaks the stigma of the art gallery and the idea that art is only for the elite,” explains Batanides, “watching the intimate process of a person painting and being creative before your very eyes can awaken something in people. It can inspire them to pick up a paint brush and check it out for themselves.” She happily recounts occasions when people have come up to her while she’s painting and told her that they are going to start painting once again, or even try it for the first time.
Using primarily acrylics and watercolors, her bright, bold images embody the rhythms and joy of music. Batanides has live painted for musicians such as Jamaican Reggae artist Edge Michael, The Wailers, Michael Franti and Spearhead, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, G Love and Special Sauce. She has also covered events as diverse as yoga-chanting and was recently invited to paint at the Chancellor’s Event here is Wilmington. Citing this as one of her most memorable moments, Batanides says, “the Chancellor’s Event was very special to me as it shows how far live painting has come as a recognized and appreciated art form.” It also shows how far she has come as being a recognized and appreciated artist in this town.
Batanides is also the proud self-publisher of her own fully illustrated children’s book. “Meet Panda” and “Panda’s First Christmas” are based on the exuberant character of her beloved dog. “Panda is my loving pit bull and she was the inspiration for my stories,” explains Batanides. The real life Panda was a rescue dog and Batanides felt drawn to do something to help break the negative reputation of this breed.
With such an abundance of free spirit, there’s no telling where her paint brush will lead Batanides next, but one thing's for sure, if you happen to be out and about at a music concert this summer and you come across someone painting the magic right before your eyes, consider yourself in the right place at the right time.