TRURO – Grace Simms’ love for painting was renewed last weekend during a live competition.
The 32-year-old Glenholme native, who now lives in Princeport, went head-to-head with other artists in Art Battle 41, the first live art battle held in Halifax, and captured top spot at the event.
“It was absolutely incredible. It’s indescribable,” said Simms, who has been teaching art at Cobequid Educational Centre since 2004. “The vibe was unbelievable.”
For three 20-minute rounds, 12 different artists competed against each other (four in each round), with the winner of each making it to the final round.
“I forgot how much I love being around artists and art. I love that funk vibe,” said Simms, who was one of the last four painters to compete before the final round.
“I felt really at home. The audience was right over your shoulder, watching and commenting.”
At the end of each round, the audience voted on their favourite painting, all of which were done with acrylic paints.
Art Battle was a chance for Simms’ family – her husband and parents – to see her doing what she loves.
“Painiting is such a solitary experience and it was really nice to share it with them,” she said.
While in the final round of competition, Simms’ mind wasn’t just on her painting and the battle.
“My exact thoughts were, ‘how cool would it be if I could tell my daughter – when you were 10 months old, Mommy went into a live painting competition and won?’ This really inspired me to think about what I want to leave my legacy about.”
Growing up as the youngest of four children, Simms spent a lot of her time following around her mother, who was also an artist.
“Being the youngest, it gave me a chance to spend some time with her and when I was 12, I realized I loved to paint.”
She took art with Chris Brown at CEC before attending Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where she received her bachelor of fine arts with a major in interdisciplinary.
While she hasn’t done much painting on her own, Simms hopes to change that.
“What I really appreciate about painting is what you produce, no one else can. It’s self-expression. For me, it’s snapshots of a given moment. If I paint it 10 minutes later, it would look completely different.”
One part of the night at Art Battle that made Simms proud was seeing one of her students, Ana Medina, throw her name in for one of two wildcard spots.
“I wanted to model risk-taking for my students,” Simms said, adding she knew Medina would regret not putting her name forward to participate.
But she did, and she was chosen in the final round, putting her up against Simms.
“I loved that we got to share that experience and were able to come to school on Monday to talk about it together. Without experiencing it, it’s hard to share it, so we really enjoyed that,” she said.
Because Simms won Art Battle 41, she will move to another competition in June. From now until then, artists will continue to battle on a monthly basis, all aiming for that spot at June’s battle, which will see the winner attend a national competition in Vancouver.
Live painting comes to town
What: Student art show
Who: CEC students
When: Jan. 24, 6 to 8 p.m.
What: Fashion show beginning at 6 p.m., live painting (inspired by Art Battle) starting at 6:45 p.m. with a silent auction closing at 7:45 p.m.
Proceeds: Money raised will support the art program at CEC. Students who successfully sell their work in the auction will keep half the winning bid, with the other half going to the program.