These nine artists can pump out stunning paintings in 20 minutes flat

These nine artists can pump out stunning paintings in 20 minutes flat


At Art Battle, painters have a brush in their hands, pigments by their side and 20 minutes to create entire works of art from scratch. When the time’s up, the boisterous crowd crowns a winner—this year, it was Ottawa’s Allan André, pictured above. At this week’s national finals, in addition to their 20-minute, 22-by-28-inch masterpieces, the artists (winners from regional battles all over the country) hung out at the Great Hall and created 36-by-36-inch works, which were quickly scooped up by fans and collectors for $1,000 or more. We asked them to share the stories behind the paintings.

Photograph by Scott Lennon
Bonnie Wu

17, from Richmond Hill; Mississauga Regional Champion

Inspiration: “I wanted an exciting mystery in my piece. I’ve never painted clothing—usually I blur out the body with blocks of colour—but with this piece I was stuck, because the background was already so colourful. I wasn’t comfortable painting her naked either, and then I remembered English class: flowers always seem to represent some sort of sexuality.”


On Art Battle: “I used to play the piano, but I stopped because I hated having an audience staring at me. Art Battle helped me to get over that fear; it was the first time I shared my art so publicly, and having so many strangers appreciate what I do really motivated me.”


Photograph by Scott Lennon
“If I gave it a title, people wouldn’t make up their own”
Megan Kyak-Monteith

18, from Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Nova Scotia Champion

Inspiration: “One of my friends has this hat, so I based it off him—I just made him an old person. Something about dark tones, foggy weather, old people—they all have a really have a peaceful vibe. I was hoping a bunch of people would connect this to someone they know. Making people up is like meeting someone new.”


On Art Battle: “Don’t make the finished product in your head before you go in. You don’t have to study for this.”


Photograph by Scott Lennon
Golden Sunday
Amber Lounder-Leger

45, from Moncton; New Brunswick Champion

Inspiration: “My daughter. I took pictures of her right before I came here. It was by a pool on a Sunday. I painted a whole different painting yesterday and scrapped it; it was lacking attitude. I was really disappointed with myself, but I know I did the right thing.”

Art-Battle-Amber-Lounder-Golden Sunday

On Art Battle: “I started doing Art Battle three years ago with an ego, and it was really beneficial for me to have that beat down. The first time I went to an Art Battle with no ego, I won. Now, I don’t take it too seriously, because I know it won’t change anything about who I am or what I make.”


Photograph by Scott Lennon
“I wanted to bring ‘a touch of P.E.I.’ Maybe that’s the title?”
Scott O’Neil

47, from P.E.I.; P.E.I. Champion

Inspiration: “It’s based on P.E.I.: the bay is very familiar (like the one we have close to our gallery), the beautiful sunset (or sunrise), the rolling land.”


On Art Battle: “It’s a liberating experience. Artists get up there and express themselves in 20 minutes—and most think they can’t do it. When the adrenaline builds up, it can be exhilarating.”


Photograph by Scott Lennon
“Maybe Chrysanthemum Sky?”
Anthony Masuskapoe

30, from Ahtahkakoop First Nations; Saskatchewan Champion

Inspiration: “I had a few friends in mind when I started the piece. I began at the top, and on the way down it somehow turned into a water painting.”

Art-Battle-Anthony-Masuskapoe -Chrysanthemum-Sky

On Art Battle: “My first was so amazing. I’m addicted now.”


Photograph by Scott Lennon
“I have a series called Toothy. I guess it’s a part of that”
Meaghan Claire Kehoe

27, from Toronto; Toronto Champion

Inspiration: “When I was looking through my pictures for inspiration, I found this one: it was taken by my boyfriend up north at a cabin, where they had a trampoline. I just got on, shoved my camera at my boyfriend and he caught the moment.”


On Art Battle: “Artists are cooped up in studios, where it’s a very solitary activity. Here, it becomes almost a sport. I never competed very well in sports or made it to any competitions, and all of a sudden, there’s a venue where my art can be part of a social event where people get pumped up and cheer? This is literally a party, and I get to do what I love at the same time.”


Photograph by Scott Lennon
“I usually take a while to come up with my titles”
Leanna TenEycke

25, from Oakville; 2015 National Champion

Inspiration: “A faun. I came in knowing what colours I wanted, and I had a face in mind, but I didn’t even know if it was going to be a man or a woman, so I started making an androgynous figure. I do fantasy work, so adding horns is pretty common for me.”

Art-Battle-Leanna TenEycke-Untitled

On Art Battle: “People think of it as a fun or unprofessional event, but most of the artists who participate are professionals, so there’s a lot of skill and training that goes into these pieces.”


Photograph by Scott Lennon
The Machine
Frederick Ouellet

41, from Montreal; Quebec Champion

Inspiration: “The fight between humans and animals. People always want to ‘recreate’ nature, so this is a mix between nature and the machines of civilization.”

Art-Battle-Frederick-Ouellet-The Machine

On Art Battle: “I love the kick, and seeing what others are doing also inspires me to try new things.”


Photograph by Scott Lennon
Winter Birds
Olga Pankova

37, from Markham; Wild Card Competition Champion

Inspiration: “I have a series of wild winter animals surviving in the cold, surrounded by snow, so I decided to do something wintry and cool.”

Winter Birds, by Olga Pankova.

On Art Battle: “I can sit at home and paint something for hours, and that’s fine. But, as an artist, I always want to communicate with people. Here, people are watching me. They don’t know it, but I can almost hear their emotions. I can feel them behind me.”