September 27, 2020

BY KELSEY HEELEY

On Jan. 19 THEMUSEUM held its second edition of The Brush Off, a live painting competition where artists painted originals for prizes while art enthusiasts watched.

The day of the event THEMUSEUM on King Street in Kitchener was crowded. There were cameras flashing and videos being recorded during each round of the four-round competition.

The first round consisted of 21 artists being divided into two groups of which the winners of this round went on to round two, which featured the top 12 artists. Winners from round two proceeded to round three where the top six faced off and the final round featured the top three artists.

Each 30-minute round had different rules. In round one artists could create whatever inspired them. Round two had a theme, which was light, and dark was round three’s theme. The final round was also an open category.

Rather than have official judges the contest was judged by the audience.

“Each round the audience voted for which artwork they like the best. The spectators became the judges. It was important that people go from artist to artist before making a final decision,” said Laurel McKellar, one of the event planners.

After each round, the art pieces were put in a silent auction and attendees could bid on them throughout the night.

McKellar said the proceeds from The Brush Off go not only to THEMUSEUM but to the artists who participated in the event as well. The artists also benefited from self-promotion.

“Artists could use the event as an opportunity for networking and showcasing their existing work as well as their new work. They could make connections to drum up further business for themselves,” McKellar said.

Contestant Ivan Stocco said, “I spent years living in Spain and going to events similar to The Brush Off, except they were outdoor. Since living in Canada, I’ve been looking for an event and I found The Brush Off.”

Stocco said he enjoys the camaraderie of so many artists and art appreciators.

Another contestant, Chris Austin, said it was exhilarating being in a competition such as The Brush Off.

Contest participant James Nye said, “It’s creative mayhem. You never know what can happen when you have 30 minutes to make a piece of art with crowds of people watching you.”

Stocco, who had to paint four paintings in four hours, was crowned the winner, beating last year’s champion Meredith Blackmore.