A portion of all sales and commissions will be donated annually to Big Hill Haven, our local Women's Shelter. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence visit www.bighillhaven.com for more resources.
HI! I'M MJ
I have always loved art. Even while attending the Royal Military College I was always drawing and painting around campus. Unfortunately my art took a bit of a hiatus until 2018 when I decided to create a piece for submission to the International Veterans Art Exhibition held as part of the Invictus Games 2018 in Sydney, Australia. To my surprise, my self portrait was chosen to represent Canada and was displayed in the Gallery during the Games and then went on tour with all the other amazing art pieces. Competing in the Invictus Games for Team Canada was a life changing experience in so many ways and gave me back the gift of art.
Since then I have been experimenting with acrylics in an impressionist style using palette knives and brushes with heavy body paint to create texture and depth to my paintings. It almost feels like sculpting the painting. My favourite subjects are flowers, wildlife and landscapes (seascapes). I usually like to add a few touches of metallics to my paintings to bring them to life.
In addition to painting, I have considerable experience in commercial graphic design including digital illustration, web design and all manner of marketing skills. I also enjoy gardening, pottery, woodwork, jewellery making and resin arts. My blog will be my outlet for all my creative pursuits.
I use art as therapy to help in the healing process from post traumatic stress (PTSD) from my service and military domestic violence. Art can help ground you, motivate you and help heal your heart and mind.
As a designer sometimes the hardest project is creating your own logo. I decided to choose the Wild Prairie Crocus for my symbol as these incredibly strong flowers have adapted to thrive in our harsh Alberta climate. A flower of many names, the wild prairie crocus is also known as gosling plant, pasque-flower, windflower and more. The furry perennial is not actually a crocus, but an anemone, belonging to the buttercup family. The Cree name, mostos otisiy, ᒧᐢᑐᐢ ᐅᑎᓯᐩ, literally means “buffalo's belly button". The scientific name is Anemone Patens.
This remarkable flower has adapted to our harsh climate by growing "hairs" that prevent snow and frost from freezing the flower. Those fine hairs prevent the wind from hitting the surface of the plant; the temperature at the leaf surface can be 10° warmer than the surrounding air. I think this resilience is incredible and the perfect symbol for those of us trying to bloom despite adversity.
My Invictus Art Journey
Make Your Mark -
Invictus 2018 Theme
MJ Batek is a Canadian military veteran who experienced a career ending physical injury while training to be one of the first female Artillery Officers in Canada in the early 1990s. She also suffers from complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) relating from Military Sexual Trauma and Military Domestic Abuse. She is an honours graduate with a Bachelors of Art degree from the Royal Military College of Canada.
Prior to joining an Army Reserve unit at the young age of 16, MJ enjoyed making art, especially ink drawings and watercolour. Unfortunately, her experiences while in service changed her completely and, coupled with domestic violence, ended any joy she felt in creating art.
As a member of Team Canada for the Invictus Games, Sydney 2018, MJ has had to re-learn many life skills including how to swim properly, how to shoot a bow and a new experience, how to play wheelchair basketball. On receiving the call for submissions to the Australian National Veterans Art Museum (ANVAM), she decided to pick up a paint brush for the first time in decades. Inspired by her artistic son, she decided to apply the Invictus spirit and attempt to capture her journey in paint.
MJ decided to embrace the Invictus theme of “Make Your Mark” by doing a first ever self portrait of herself swimming the breaststroke, her favourite stroke. Never having competitively swam before, MJ had to work hard to learn proper form and did her first competitive swim prior to the Invictus Games by swimming across Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada.
The messy reflections in the water of her painting are how MJ has seen herself for many years while those around her have seen the clearer picture above. She is now beginning to recognize the focus and determination captured in this painting and how just painting it to completion was a personal victory. Much like how the purpose of the Games is to heal through sport, this painting is an attempt to heal the soul through art. MJ has titled the piece “Determined Hope”.
“Determined Hope” is a self portrait showcasing the juxtaposition that veterans with PTSD experience in regards to their self image. The artist sees herself as the messy reflection; a collection of the trauma which has redefined who she is. The clearer image of the swimmer above shows how the world around her sees her; as a strong single mom, as a domestic violence survivor, as a female warrior who was willing to serve her Country.
Painted in a more impressionistic style rather than realistic, MJ decided to use bold paint texture to show the movement of the water. The water itself representing the mental and physical challenges veterans faces in everyday life. The determination and focus shown in the painting represent the Invictus journey and how she could barely swim 10 laps when she began her Invictus journey.
The use of maple leaves in the painting represent Team Canada and Canada as a whole. That even though the swimmer is swimming alone in this painting, her team mates are there with her in spirit. The swimmer in this painting is determined to make her mark by doing the absolute best she can; and that will be her ultimate victory.
A huge thank you to Team Canada Photographer Lyndon Goveas whose original photograph inspired my painting. You can check out his work here.