Last night, Art Battle came to Kingston for the first time, hosting their 76th battle at the Renaissance venue on Queen Street. And what a battle it was. Consisting of two rounds, each with six different local artists, the competition had artists live painting against each other and the clock. Each round lasted only 20 minutes – an exceptionally short period of time to create an inspired piece of artwork. Add to this a perfectly blended soundtrack in the background and one kick a** MC, and you have yourself some serious entertainment. After each round, audience members voted for their favorite piece of art, with the top two most popular pieces advancing to the third and final round.
Art Battle is art like you’ve never seen it before. Combining competition with creativity and fun, Art Battle gives audience members the opportunity to see awe-inspiring artwork –and the artists behind them–in an entirely new light. It’s a truly unique experience that brings art to life, exposing the very intimate process of creating a masterpiece. Art Battle spotlighted some of Kingston’s extremely talented artists, who didn’t exactly have it easy as competitors. Besides bravely facing the audience’s intruding eyes, the artists had to be whip-quick, adapting to the not-always ideal circumstances that can arise with live competitive painting. One artist actually had to work through an easel malfunction (See! It really is a battle!)
Andrea Nazarian and myself had the pleasure of being invited to Art Battle 76, where Sharlena Wood was named champion. We grabbed Sharlena after her big win for a quick chat about art.
Q: How did you hear about art battle?
A: Four years ago it was happening in Toronto. I had just moved to Kingston and wasn’t able to attend. I was really upset that I had missed it since a lot of my friends who are artists went and told me how awesome it was, but I didn’t have the opportunity to go and even see what it was like. Glad it came here!
Q: We noticed you had a very distinct style in the two pieces you created tonight. Can you describe that style to us?
A: Drawing is my absolute passion, so even if I’m painting I approach it at least in part with an intention of drawing with the paint. I use a lot of lines and linearity and I love drawing creatures and nature. This is the first time I’ve painted completely from my imagination! I’ve drawn a lot of owls but I’m usually looking at a photo for reference, so to do that on my own with everyone’s energy surrounding me was really amazing.
Q: Is there a specific person or artist who influences your art?
A: Claudia McCabe has been an amazing influence, as well as Monica Rosen who invited me tonight. We battled together! Claudia is a professional artist and she’s the one who really encouraged me to pursue this when I doubted myself.
Q: How did you prepare for this competition?
A: I tried not to think about it. For the first round I looked at a couple of images and said to myself “okay, I have backup if I really need it.” Like I said to the announcer at the end, the best part of the second round was that I really didn’t have time to think about it at all. I didn’t even think I’d get to the second round to begin with!
Q: Did you end up using any of your backup images as a base or did you work completely off of your imagination?
A: This was totally about my imagination. It wasn’t necessarily that I played it safe because usually when I paint and draw, I use a lot of mixed media. I love owls and I’ve drawn them enough and should know what they look like. I‘ve drawn a lot of trees and hoped that these subjects would work, but you really don’t know! You don’ know if it’s gonna work in this type of situation.
Q: We noticed you were having a lot of fun while you were painting as well, dancing around and laughing which was something that we really loved seeing. Is your art something that’s an outlet or a fun escape for you?
A: It’s definitely a profession and a business and whatnot but I know that that joy is actually a big part of accessing my artistic intuition and helps me continue loving what I do. If you take it too seriously, at some point it’s going to become a burden. There’s also the energy of the people around and the music as well, when they were playing certain songs I was really getting into it.
Q: Speaking of music, we have one last question for you. What music do you usually listen to while you paint?
A: I listen to a lot of atmospheric, ambient, psy-chill. I love Bjork and really emotional and artistic music but I usually listen to ambient. It lets me find a groove.
Congratulations Sharlena, and best of luck in the Kingston City Art Battle Finals!
Sharlena Wood and her Art Battle winning piece.
For more of Sharlena Wood’s art: www.sharlenawood.com
For more information on Art Battle Canada: www.artbattle.ca
Abi Conners, Online Editor + Andrea Nazarian, Editor-in-chief
Photography: Erika Misasi