By Micheal Di Persio
Several blank canvasses stood center stage, waiting for an artist to step forward and give them new life with the stroke of their brush.
Slowly but steadily Toronto’s many art connoisseurs and enthusiasts filtered into the banquet room at 1087 Queen St W, some spending most of their time at the bar, others mingling with the other guests.
It’s another night at Toronto Art Battles, a monthly event where artists try to create masterpieces in 20-minute rounds.
After a vote from the audience, the top two painters get to move on to the next round and get a shot at winning a cash prize along with a chance to compete nationally.
Tanya Casole-Gouveia, a hostess for the event, has been working at the Toronto Art Battles for several years, and said she got the job after years of being an audience member.
Casole-Gouveia said it’s the energy that draws her to events like this.
“The things these people can do in 20 minutes will blow your mind,” she said.
Art Battle is an international event, with competitions across Canada and the US.
However, two years ago at the Pan Am Games, some artists such as Andre Castro got their first taste of live competitive painting.
Whether it was his start in graphic design, his many psychedelic drug trips or just the splendid colour of life, Castro said he started taking art more seriously once he moved to Canada from Mexico.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Castro said.”I make a lot of connections, a lot of good friends. So, If I win or not, it doesn’t matter.”
Alexis (Lipstick Lex) Fraser, one of the competing artists, said she’s been painting all her life, diving in and out of many art forms including portraiture and nature.
Fraser started professionally five years ago and got her nickname from her signature art series. The 32-year-old artist calls her signature art lipstick pointillism, where she tries on several lipsticks and kisses a canvas over a hundred times.
“It can take one full day to an entire full month to complete a piece,” she said.
A slight twist to the Toronto Art Battles competition is added when audience members can also try their hand at painting at the end of the night if their name is lucky enough to be chosen out of a hat.
The art goes on sale at the end of the night where Casole-Gouveia said they can potentially be sold for up to $500.
“Every time you make a lap it’s changing, every time you come around, it’s hilarious,” said Nathan Hilliker, audience member.
“Bringing together art, people and music I mean that’s culture,” said Casole-Gouveia.