May 8, 2013

Art Battle steal

Self-portrait by Mark Stephenson


I bought art! I thought that collecting original art was years away for me for lack of cash. But art is cheaper at auctions so I got lucky. This gorgeous self-portrait is by Mark Stephenson.

Mark painted it Sunday night at Art Battle. It was Ottawa's first Battle and I expect there'll be more since a good 100 people showed up and everybody left looking happy. The set-up is 12 artists live painting for a chance at some cash and a ticket to Art Battle nationals in Toronto. Painters paint in two qualifying rounds, easels in the middle, audience surrounding. 20 minutes per painting.

It'd be easy to get frantic under the pressure. Loud music, people circling you in a churning wheel. It was generally a younger crowd, students maybe.

Mark and local artist and Ottawa School of Art teacher Hamid Ayoub won their qualifying round and competed against the other two qualifiers (Margo Bennetto and Peter Akiki) in the final. Mark won the whole thing by only one vote. Mark seemed really focused, working away at his palette and canvas steadily and considered. Impressive control.

I talked to Mark after and he told me that he'd planned to paint an audience member. But Art Battle admin vetoed that, saying no references allowed. Instead, he painted an acquaintance from memory in Round 1 and himself in Round 2. I was so glad. I figured everyone would paint something they'd practiced in advance. But who wants to watch people put down a formula?

When the winner was announced, Mark broke out in a grin and family members pulled him in for a hug. Looked like his wife, kids and parents. I was so chuffed that the winner of an edgy art contest was a family man. That's just my momness showing through :)

I'm proud to own this painting. My first original art purchase in, oh, 13 years? I think it's really fine.