Art Battle Halifax gives fresh start to a newcomer

12 artists, 20 minutes, in front of a live audience 

Sarah Marceau painted her way onto the Halifax art scene on Friday.

Decked out in face paint, the lifelong artist competed against 11 painters at Art Battle Halifax.

“To even be a part of this is an amazing experience,” said Marceau, 29.

Five months ago, Marceau packed up a few suitcases, loaded up her truck and left Hixon, B.C., with her boyfriend and their dog. After a 5,600-kilometre journey, they landed in Halifax, where Marceau would soon face a new adventure.

Art Battle is an international competition that provides a platform for aspiring painters. Twelve artists get 20 minutes to create their work of art, then the audience gets to vote on their favourite.

On Friday, Marceau faced her biggest competition — herself.

“When I was at home I actually couldn’t get it done in 20 minutes. I was freaking out on the way here because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get it done on time,” said Marceau.

She ended up having more than enough time to add final details to her piece. She said she was proud of how she did in the challenge, even though she didn’t make it past the first round.

Marceau painted a burning fire at night with pine trees in the backdrop.

“I wanted to tell a story, and where better to tell a story than in front of the campfire? Everybody has a story from in front of the campfire,” she said. “I felt like it was a very inclusive kind of painting where anybody can relate to it.”

Sarah Marceau chose to present inclusion through memories made by the fire.   Travis Devonport

The competition featured live art by Megan Kyak-Monteith, an Art Battle veteran. Kyak-Monteith competed in Art Battles for the last four years and has gone all the way to the national level.

She said Art Battle’s 20-minute deadline has helped her embrace painting under pressure.

“Doing it without a plan can make the painting a little better sometimes,” she said.

National Art Battle competitor Megan Kyak-Monteith was at Friday’s event as a live painter.   Ellery Platts

While Marceau is new to painting under pressure, this is not the first time she’s taken on a big challenge. Last year, she was able to channel her creative eye by designing a 70-foot-long mural for her workplace at Langdale Terminal in British Columbia. She got help from the community to paint the mural.

“It was a really fun time. I learned a lot about painting from that experience because you had so many different kinds of painters there,” said Marceau.

While Marceau didn’t make it far, her piece sold for $70. She got to keep half of the money, with the rest going back to Art Battle.

While compensation is satisfying, Marceau uses painting as a way to reflect on what’s happening in her life. She calls it “art therapy.”

“When I’m painting I can put all my emotions and negativity into it. Painting to me is a way of expressing myself.”

Travis Devonport

Travis Devonport

Travis is a freelance journalist and event photographer based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Ellery Platts

Ellery Platts

Ellery is a fourth year student in the BJH program at King's. She is extremely passionate about sports and photography.

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