Ten visual artists competed in the Art Battle Ottawa Championship and the energy was high at Club SAW. Let Apartment613 fill you in on what you missed ahead of the Art Battle National Championship.
Art Battle is a national painting competition which has been taking place in Ottawa for years. In three rounds of 20 minutes, select local painters must complete a full painting on canvas, live, using the same tools. The public votes for their favourite paintings of each round, and can also bid online for the artists’ work.
Not only is it a high-visibility opportunity for the painters, it’s also a moment for the artistic community to get-together. “It’s probably the only time where I’ll have a beer or two while painting,” laughs Dom Laporte, one of the championship competitors. The competition has a nightclub atmosphere, which was brilliantly DJ’d by Auchtorok for this Ottawa championship edition.
While the event usually takes place at Beyond The Pale brewery, the uncertainties of the pandemic forced the Art Battle team not only to cancel past editions, but also to use the smaller-than-usual space of Club SAW for the 2022 competition.
“Besides the size of the venue, once the audience began the countdown for the first round of painters, it was like… we hadn’t taken any time off at all,” says Peter Purdy, longtime organizer of Art Battle Ottawa.
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“Some people chose to become a bit more experimental in the third round. But for the first painting, people stick to what they’re comfortable doing,” muses O’Neill. She personally opted for a feminine portrait, with a medusa vibe. “It was scary but very fun,” says O’Neill, who hasn’t participated in the competition since 2015.
Bouffard painted what seemed to be like a businesswoman in a blue background, which he struggled to finish. Martelock stuck to his emblematic sparrow with a war helmet portrait on a cattail plant, accompanied by two bold blue stripes in the background.
Amyot used impressionist techniques to create a landscape blackened by the warm colours of a sunset. Coulthart also used an impressionist technique to paint what seemed to be inspired by the top of a pine tree.
After the first round, O’Neill and Coulthart were selected by the public as the two artists to move on.
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For the second round, Alexander Barker, Suzannah Robertson, Rob Nicholson, Dom Laporte, as well as that night’s Wildcard competed against each other. Some of these artists opted for more experimental techniques.
Laporte not only used a different artistic style from what he typically does, but also opted for unusual painting techniques. “You can’t work with wet paint with so little time,” he said. “I wiped dry the background and I just brushed with water … It makes a nice effect for the crowd to see.” The artist, whose abstract man portrait was sold to the highest bidder that night, admitted that he felt a bit rusty.
“Besides the size of the venue, once the audience began the countdown for the first round of painters, it was like… we hadn’t taken any time off at all.”—Peter Purdy
Barker painted a mermaid, staring at the sun through water. Meanwhile, Robertson started by writing a thick, red “SMOKE… AND HAIL SATAN” before adding a face portrait of what looked like a blue-skinned businessman.
Nicholson opted for the classic laughing face of Bob Marley in green, yellow and red, accompanied by three little birds. The Wildcard painted an impressionist landscape with yellow flowers.
Robertson and Barker were chosen by the public for the final round.
The energy was high for the third and final round. O’Neill, Barker, Robertson, and Coulthart competed aggressively to be part of the Art Battle National Championship against the grand finalist Andre Allan.
For the third round, O’Neill once again painted a feminine figure, while Barker painted a dramatic scene of a wild horse running through a thunderstorm. Robertson portrayed a colourful laughing woman on a background of dots and a sarcastic “K.”
Coulthart opted for almost the same painting as his first—using the same colours, he painted the body of the pine tree.
The final winner of Art Battle Ottawa 2022 was Gord Coulthart! He will be competing against Andre Allan at the National Championship on the night of July 20th at the Liberty Grand Governor’s Room in Toronto.
Peter Purdy said after the event that he is very excited for Art Battle to return to Ottawa in August, “hopefully in a larger venue where we won’t have to turn away anyone at the door.” He is dedicated to continuing Ottawa’s best live art event and helping local painters find a national—and international—audience as Art Battle grows around the globe and online.
Follow @artbattleottawa on Instagram.