To Delaware artist Courtney Bateman, art imitates life, er, the pursuit of one. She describes her painting style as “a dichotomy of control and letting go.” At a glance, her signature execution is easily recognizable — concentric circular or cellular patterns layered over rich royal blue and rosy coral landscapes, a multi-layered technique of resin and acrylic yielding results that show depth and texture. But the intentionality behind those cells is deeper than what meets the eye: it’s biological.
Born and raised in Rehoboth Beach, Bateman began experiencing headaches while attending Episcopal High School, a boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia, which led to an eventual Lyme disease diagnosis that left her essentially bedridden from chronic pain and dizziness. When her illness left her unable to move well, she developed her distinctive cellular painting technique that allowed her to focus on smaller sections at a time. “It connects to Lyme on a biological level. There’s a lot of pain under the skin and there’s things that come to the surface that expose it.”
Her early work (pre-diagnosis) was more traditional, Georgia O’Keeffe-esque, albeit with vivid landscapes, and has since evolved.
She credits hyperthermia treatment in Mexico two years ago — a therapy that brings the patient’s body temperature to at least 106° F, the point at which many strains of Borrelia (Lyme disease) are killed, as life-changing. “I thought I would never be able to do anything on my own, and that I would be under the care of somebody for most of my life,” she reveals. “This past winter, I went skiing with family and friends, and I’ve been biking and hiking. It (the therapy) was the best thing I ever did.”
When not perched behind her art table, she lives a bit of a nomadic life — following her husband, who does golf course restoration, all over California and Utah, with their two massive dogs — a Rottweiler and hound. But she’s thrilled to be showing her work in the town she grew up in and hopes to return permanently soon. On June 24, she welcomed the public to an opening reception of her work. “The outpouring of support was overwhelming. Everybody kept reminding me that years ago, I couldn’t do this.”