Art Battle Manchester was to stage its biggest show to date at none other than the iconic New Century, the cultural jewel in the crown of the city’s NOMA district.
A previous winner, I was asked to take part in the Art Battle Battle Royale II.
The spectacle of painters, illustrators, tattooists, and street artists go head-to-head. With only 30 minutes to create a masterpiece, the audience decides the winner of each round and -ultimately – the artist who will be crowned Champion of Champions.
It took a couple of weeks and a few study attempts to decide on a reference. I was looking for an image that expressed an emotion and could create an impact within the setting.
I settled on an image of a woman crying, her face coming out from the shadows. I like to push the colours when I’m painting portraits, her bright red nose drew me in initially.
I went along to Louis’ studio at Walton Gardens to work on the colour palette and to really identify the key features of the face. Because the final painting was so large, I wanted to accentuate the zygomatic arches, the shadows in the eyes and red of the nose.
I cropped the portrait to just include the eyes and nose and practised painting it at full scale (24 x 30 inches), within 30 minutes. There were varying results, but overall I was pretty happy. I did this for 4 evenings leading up to the event.
The evening went pretty well – I won, haha. I knew from the previous time that I was able to block all of the noise and people out once I started to paint. And even though we had a 1000 strong audience, I didn’t feel nervous.
I entered the arena to my chosen song, Show Me Love by Robin S. I was ready to smash it! Only once I started painting, I realised that I couldn’t see the colours on my palette under the famous hall lights. It was similar to a limited Zorn palette with not much tonal differentiation. After an initial panic, I started to remember the location of each colour. I made a few mistakes, but had time to fix them.
I had an absolute blast, its a great event and would encourage all artists to have a go as it definitely helps you with speed and takes you out of your comfort zone.
Getting the fundamentals right is essential, this is what you get on Louis’ course. It’s given me the confidence and freedom to push my artwork to another level whilst keeping my own artistic identity.
Check out my progress on Instagram.com/sonnieharrisart