By Morgan Booth
Irina Lipkin is a career live painter living in Toronto. Known for her uncanny ability to jump seamlessly from style to style with skill and commitment to every genre she takes on. A multidisciplinary artist, Irina cites graphic design, make-up artistry, scenic painting and theatre design among the many skills in her creative repertoire. We first had Irina paint in 2011 for Art Battle Leap year, and most recently at the Art Battle National 2012 Championships. We welcome Irina back to the easel tomorrow for Art Battle 50, for a night of intense competition.
How did you first get into live painting?
My experience as a live painting performer began at the Leap Year Art Battle, in 2012. One of my facebook friends invited me to the event and it sounded like a fun thing to do in the middle of the week. I was in my last year of school and was intrigued by the idea that I could paint with other artists and put my painting abilities to the test. I had no idea what it was going to be like. I was hoping that we would be given some theme or subject to go from. We were given 7 minutes, and when Chris was doing the count down I realized that it was pure improvisation. I dabbed my brush into my favorite color and hoped that the painting would somehow happen, and it did.
I loved the concept and enjoyed the adrenaline, so I kept applying and with each Battle I got better and better until finally I got into the Championship with my partner from Art Battle Doubles. Art Battle has really made me feel confident about my work and how I handle an audience.
I find it really satisfying accomplishing goals in a short time frame. I also think that I’ve always liked being the center of attention, that’s why I get along with the idea of performing live painting. I love the immediate interaction and feedback that I get from my audience – it stimulates my senses. The main difference between what I do now and painting live at Art Battle is that right now it’s less stressful since the element of competition is lacking, I’m the only painter and I’m only competing with myself.
You describe yourself as a multidisciplinary artist, how do you find having a wide range of skills and experience benefits you as a painter specifically?
I’d like to think that each practice – typography, graphic design, makeup artistry, theatrical design, and scenic painting – has helped me enrich my visual vocabulary and helped me to approach the process of creation with more attention to detail.
For me, painting is a pure form of representation of my emotional world and the way I translate things I see and experience. Therefore, I like it to be expressive and free of structure. Notwithstanding, as pure as I want it to be, I have all those equations in my head; about color theories and composition and the physiological effects on a viewer, so whenever I paint I end up using all of those tools – It almost happens subconsciously. If you see some rosy cheeks on my figures, it’s the makeup artist in me.
It’s actually funny but when I do live painting, before I start each new piece, I get a bit nervous. It’s that thrill before one goes on stage. I think it’s a common feeling to a lot of artists, but once you are in the spot light, everything happens naturally. So every now and then I just like reminding myself that I’m actually a professional painter now and I can’t forget how to ride the bicycle.
You work with MOVE Dance Competition as a live performance painter accompanying the dancers, how does painting in this environment influence the work you create?
I’m so lucky to work with such a great team of positive people; it is the 5th year that Shawn Desman & Beatriz Leonardo have organized this great dance competition. The dance schools that participate in the competition put a lot of effort into costumes; seeing all the different dance genres and original designs come alive on stage inspires me to paint a lot of colorful movement.
Tell us about the painting workshop you are working on right now.
As part of my professional growth I explore different opportunities. Teaching art and painting is one of the things I’d like to explore. I feel like I have gotten to a point where I can share my knowledge with others.
What is your opinion on the Toronto art community?
I think that it’s very vibrant, friendly, supportive and welcoming. I think that once you find your niche, it’s easier to start growing. Thanks to Art Battle, I’ve found mine and now I’m performing live painting. I love it, other people love what I do and there’s a lot of potential to grow.
How does your view of the world affect how you paint?
I don’t like to subscribe to a specific genre, technique or style of creativity. My approach towards my work is same as my life; think of the world as a spectrum of colors and be adventurous with it.
For future Art Battle painters, what is your best battle tip?
I think that the best advice I can give is to enjoy the process. It’s all about positive energy and the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Don’t worry about winning; simply come with an open mind, have a drink, then focus & rock it. It is a win/win situation. You can’t go wrong when you are surrounded with people who make art fun.
Irina will be painting at Art Battle 50, Tuesday April 23rd The Great Hall 1087 Queen Street West at 730pm.