Back in June, I was scrolling down Instagram, bored at home in Saudi Arabia. I came across a sponsored Ad by Art Battle. I clicked on the website. I learned that it is an organisation based in New York City. The idea is that they set up Art Battles, where artists create artwork live on the spot. They hold 200+ events in the U.S. every year. They also exist globally in over 60+ cities abroad.
So, I signed up! And I selected my dates and times. San Francisco’s earlier event on August 5 was closed. So the next nearest city is Monterey. I’ve never been there and I thought it might be a good place to visit if I got selected. And I was! A month ago, the art director in Monterey emailed me an invitation, and was happy to tell me that I was selected. Finally, I am going to Monterey and maybe visit Carmel-by-the-Sea. – which I didn’t get to do.
The rules of the competition were simple. They provide everything except for the brushes. Artists are not allowed to use any mechanical tools. Artists create their work in a frame of 20 minutes, using primary colours, plus black and white. I wasn’t aware of this last bit except when I arrived. I was freaking out. I had a picture in mind that I wanted to paint, which required a lot of different shades, that I was not sure I could create in 20 minutes. The canvas was bigger than I expected, and the paint they provided was a school-grade acrylic. The lighting was dim and the crowd circled us so closely. I decided to put on my headphones, my own music and phase everyone out.
When we started I panicked. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. My music shuffled to something awful, and I was thrown off. I had to remind myself of a de Young Museum art display of two huge canvases that are empty! And that whatever the hell I did was going to be better than THAT! No offence de Young! So I geared up. I created it. 20 minutes passed like a century but I managed. I was thankful for David flashing me every now and then creating high exposure. I was able to see details of my paintings that way, since again, light was dim (no thanks to Art Battle here). To Make a short story, I didn’t win!
David has always been the biggest support since I was doing my Masters back in 2013. I could never thank him enough. Thanks Boo!
One thing I learned from this experience was I am never going to be part of the art scene. I felt out of place at every art scene I’ve been to. It felt like I am the stranger among a close clique. I definitely didn’t belong.
One thing I loved and surprised me was how art was created within those limitations. I was surprised by myself mostly. I didn’t know I could create with only 3 colours. I am going to try this and apply it to my own work. I’ll try and experiment with those primaries, maybe not the 20 minutes limit though.