Hosted by Art Battle Toronto at The Great Hall on April 30, Art Battle 800 saw Soni and her fellow creative competitors tasked with painting the most magnificent masterpieces possible in just 20 minutes – and in front a crowd of more 100 voting audience members, no less.
“It was a big-achievement kind of feeling for me to be selected,” said Soni, a 20-year-old international student from India.
“In India, there are not a lot of opportunities for art things, so it was a big opportunity for me to improve myself as an artist.”
Having just moved to Toronto four months ago to attend Yorkville’s Bachelor of Business Administration program, Soni said she learned about Art Battle – a live competitive painting event that lets audience members not only vote for their favourite paintings, but also bid on them via silent auction – on Instagram.
Getting the chance to compete against 15 other – some more established – artists during the event, she said, was both flattering and a little intimidating.
“They gave us info on each of the other artists – and one artist has almost 40,000 followers on Instagram and he’s a realistic portrait painter,” she said.
“I know I’m not as talented right now. I’m still practicing and improving my art skills. So, it was good to compete with them – it felt like a big achievement.”
Notified of her selection just two days before the Art Battle 800 event, Soni said she didn’t have much time to brainstorm many ideas of what she wanted to paint, so she just picked up her paintbrush and went for it.
“I couldn’t decide what I was going to paint. I just took the canvas and painted a multi-coloured background with the profile of a girl and a #MeToo hashtag,” she said, describing the result as an “expression painting.”
“I like painting like that. I like painting something that has meaning.”
A self-taught artist, Soni said she’s always loved to paint and draw, but only just began taking up her art more seriously in the last four years.
“I learned it by myself – that’s how I started. I just took up one day, bought some colours and canvas and just painted. Now, I try to practice it every day,” she said, noting that she enrolled in Yorkville’s BBA program to help her learn how to turn her passion for art into a viable career.
“Even art is a business, and at a certain point, I will have to do the business. It will be helpful for me to learn how to do the business, because I can make the art, but if I don’t know how to sell it, then what do I do? Marketing is a good thing.”
While Soni didn’t emerge victorious from her first-ever Art Battle, she did succeed in selling her painting, and said she walked away from the event determined to return again.
“I will take part and compete again,” she vowed. “I want to win – I want to have that feeling of winning.”