Photo courtesy of Gretchen Batcheller (top left)
Painting has always been a major part of Art Professor Gretchen Batcheller’s life.
She said it was a way to connect with family — especially her grandmother who taught art classes for adults in her studio — and a place to ground herself.
“I painted one of my first paintings with her in watercolor,” Batcheller said. “I had just turned 5 years old, and [the picture was] a landscape of Mount Rainier.”
After Batcheller was diagnosed with leukemia at 13, she pushed herself more into painting.
“That sort of repositioned my trajectory of what I would do, for I was on treatments for about three-and-a-half, almost four years,” Batcheller said.
After beating leukemia, Batcheller volunteered for years at a summer camp for children with cancer. Batcheller’s leukemia made it harder for her to take part in the sports she enjoyed, and she devoted that time to painting. Soon, painting encompassed a large portion of her life.
With the help of her high school art teacher, Batcheller entered and won several contests which boosted Batcheller’s confidence as she decided to declare herself an art major upon entering college.
“It just became all very apparent that I was just ready to launch into the art-making full-time,” Batcheller said.
Batcheller’s time with her grandmother was what led her to consider teaching fine arts as a career. Batcheller said teaching allows her to watch her students mature and grow artistically as she imparts her own wisdom. Although her students tend to joke with her about her advice, Batcheller said she loves knowing that they remember it enough to take it to heart in that way.
“I think one of the reasons why I love academia is that I love learning,” Batcheller said. “And that’s something that helps us to evolve and grow and change and become better human beings as well.”
Contact Samantha Torre by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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