Fort Worth artist Colton Batts brings the dark side to Fort Worth
Art, a noted non-Philistine when articulated, has the ability to make us nervous. Now meet Colton Batts, whose art can make, if not nervous, a little unsure of his surroundings.
âIt almost looks like he has that Colton Batts filter on the world,â says Jay Wilkinson, a famous Fort Worth oil painter and friend of Batts. “It’s pretty and dark with a deep and distant and scary meaning. It’s cool. It’s good.”
Batts was officially introduced to the Fort Worth Art Society during a month-long ‘After Hours’ show at Wilkinson’s Dang Good Candy in Sundance Square, downtown, which showcased his absolutely spectacular skills in photography and digital editing that allow it to enhance what the camera sees.
On display were his photos of Fort Worth after dark, which showcased the city on foggy mornings and foggy nights. With them, Freddy Krueger hides a strange feeling.
The show was a success. Batts, a connoisseur of the “darker aesthetic,” says he’s sold 75-80% of his inventory there and has had collectors on the phone since. He added that Simon Sinek, the Anglo-American author and inspirational speaker, had inquired about his services. Not bad for a guy who discovered this only about five years ago, a self-taught business that he literally made into an art form.
It’s not like it came out of nowhere. Batts, 37, who grew up in Richland Hills and attended High School in Birdville was, he says, “an artist always, super lover of art in school.”
âHonestly,â says Wilkinson, who grew up with Batts in Birdville, âhe’s always been a talented dude, but it’s only been in the last four or five years that he’s really pushed himself to be a artist. I have always been a painterâ¦ and he used to say: âI am going, I am going. And then he just did it. He has a truly unique voice. It just came quickly and powerfully. It’s really unique, it’s really him, and I love it.
Batts used Stephen King, the master of the horror fiction genre, as an inspiration to come out and work on it. in the king On writing, Batts says the author teaches potential artists what it takes to be a successful artist.
Go there even when you don’t feel like it and make your art.
To that end, Batts posted one photo a day on Instagram for a year, a company that really acted as a “springboard for my art, just forcing me to do it every day.”
It was as a graphic designer that Batts discovered this interest. He rarely liked any of the stock photo options in front of him, so he did the photography himself.
âI would draw on my own assets,â he said. âIt turned into ‘I’m going to learn photography on my own.’ And it became a love affair with light. I am obsessed with light.
Batts has gone from âspraying and praying,â as he puts it, to working with knowledge and determination every time he activates the shutter. Initially, he would go out and take 500 photos at a time.
âNow I’m going to come back with 10 hits that I made,â says Batts. âIt just got more intentional. I’m not trying to spray and pray. I have a pretty good idea of ââwhat I want to do. I tell new artists that you have to take 10,000 photos and edit them before you can even start saying, âOK, that’s what I even like. At first he was trying to see what was working.
He is currently working on a new collection, “Southern Gospel”, composed of religious iconographies of the South, such as old churches with a certain magical realism, he says.
âIt’s really an aesthetic that I love,â says Batts, recently married to ex-Kait Rhone, who is an embroidery artist. âI have always been drawn to religious aesthetics, like Masons, secret societies. I love this cultist iconography. It’s not like my belief system, just the general visual aesthetic that I like.
Batts’ odyssey to the present day has taken a winding path to The City That Never Sleeps.
To make a living and pay his electric bill and those kinds of incidentals, he worked for an independent film production company, Killer Films, doing film sets, props and set dressings.
“Things like that,” he said, remembering. He knew some people in the industry and “just got lucky at the job.”
His closest contact with Hollywood stardom was “Then She Found Me” in 2007, with Helen Hunt, who also produced and directed the film. Matthew Broderick and Colin Firth co-starred, and Bette Midler also played a role.
In the film, April Epner (Hunt) finds herself at a crossroads when the wheels of her life come off.
Go forward a few years and you will discover some irony. Batts was confronted with a life-changing event when one night, about 10 years ago, his apartment building in Brooklyn burned down. His belongings flew into the night air of New York. He had no money and, most importantly, he had no tenant insurance.
âI said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go home, âhe said.
Perhaps the event was serendipity or fate. Who really knows? But back in Fort Worth, Batts found something.