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Art Battle brings out the competitive side of artists

Fredericton area painters are turning away from the traditional style of painting at the end of the month with Art Battle – an event with live competitive painting.

Unlike musicians, whose artistic performances are greatly appreciated by their audience, painters normally have their art presented in the form of an exhibit.

The event is taking place on Jan. 30 at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. This is the third event of the season in New Brunswick, with the regional finals set to take place in June.

Andre Samson, the event organizer for Fredericton, explained that there are 12 artist and two qualifying rounds. The artists are given 20 minutes to produce a painting, and at the end the audience will vote for the artist they prefer.

“20 minutes is a short time, but people do wonderful things in that 20 minutes,” Samson said.

Art Battle, first started seven years ago in Toronto, is now a national event. In Fredericton, the event attracts hundreds of audience members that want to participate in this form of art.

Visual artists of all kinds can apply to compete in Art Battle. Unsurprisingly, they receive applications from a range of artists.

“The theme is wide open. There is no limitation to what you can paint, or the style you choose to use. There are abstract artists, realists and landscape or portrait artists.”

Artistic style is not the only thing that varies. While the rules state that “the tools allowed are brushes, palette knives or any non-mechanical implements,” Samson said that the tools used by the artists are varied and include tooth brushes, pine needles, bear hair and even the artist’s own fingers.

The live aspect, as well as the time constraint, distinguishes Art Battle from traditional art exhibits. Samson described that the change in setting results in “something different.”

“Sometimes the style of the artists will mimic what they do in studio. Sometimes they work with similar ideas, but they end up differently due to the time limit. Some artists will do something completely different.”

The artists are not the only ones affected by the setting. Samson said that for some members of the audience, watching someone produce a work of art is a completely new experience.

“Seeing someone paint live is exciting for the audience. For many artists, it’s a private thing. The audience feel connected to the piece because they have seen it from start to finish. In that aspect, I think the audience feels great appreciation for the art.”

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