Art; The Celebration by Carlos Delgado

The only secret I have is damned hard work
— Turner

An artist's journey is often times one of discovery, learnings, failures and successes. I think this becomes even more true for an artist who is self-taught and who has had to form and often times find his or her own way in both artistic style and means of expression. This has definitely been true for me.

Since coming to Canada seven years ago I had tried out many different styles of painting, from realistic to landscapes to abstract, while at the same time figuring out where is the best avenue for my art. About four years ago one of those experimentation gave birth to a series now called Being Human in the System. Out of this series I found my voice and have since then let that voice guide me to mature as an artist, as a professional and as a person. The current work with Faces of the System has been an evolution of this voice. 

Over the last four years art has given me a life I never imagined, allowing me to connect with people from all walks of life and from all around the world. I have sent my works to collectors and art lovers across almost all continents and have received the kind of support which makes one get up every day with even deeper commitment and passion to keep creating. Art has also allowed me to live and work as a full time artist and provide for me and my family through my brush. Many years ago when I had to stop doing art for many years due to financial hardships I never thought I would be in this position where I can say that I feel blessed to be a full time artist, doing what I love and getting paid for it. There truly is no greater joy in life than knowing that what you love is what also inspires your life and gives you the access point to a life in which you can give more and share more. I am a believer that in life we must first give and it is out of this belief that I ran my first event called Art; The Celebration.  I wanted to give back and say thanks to all of those in my immediate environment who have supported me and who continue to believe in my work and in me, giving me the energy to keep creating and giving back. 

More events will be coming in the future, because as art gives me blessings, I give those blessings back to others and the unviverse. We are all connected and when we build bridges based on that connection and giving we build a better world. I feel blessed to be able to do my part via my paint brush. 

Photos by Ksenija Hotic

The power of art to connect us. by Carlos Delgado

What I love about art is the way it surpasses all of the human limitations that we place on our society and our interactions with each other. All the ways we separate ourselves, be it by our age, ethnicity, culture, geography and even interests; all of these boundaries melt away when we take in and connect with art and creative forms of expression.

Black and white abstract drawing purchased by my young collector. 

 I have been lucky to have been able to connect with people from all around the world through my art.  . My art is about the subtle ways we as humans express ourselves, our emotions and our perceptions of what it means to be a person in our modern day world. It is for this reason that I love hearing feedback from people about my art because the feedback is as diverse as our the people.

Most recently I had two collectors come to my studio that brought me such a strong feeling of humility and gratitude for the way art has allowed me to connect with diverse people from all around the world. A young collector (of just 16 years) old contacted me to come see my work. I did not know he was a collector until he came to my studio. I asked him if he was a student of art and his reply was "no, I am an art collector". For me this moment was so wonderful because it was so great to see someone that young understand how powerful art can be and choose to invest in it and value it (way beyond the material). It left me feeling very inspired by the way art is such a powerfully personal experience and how we can all connect to the creative energy in are own way. 

The next day, I had a client who has previously purchased some of my pieces come over to my studio to pick up two more pieces. The client is from UK and I thought he was here for business and wanted to come pick them up personally and meet. It turned out he came just to meet me, see the art and pick it up. He came one day and left the next. I was left without words by the deep emotion of gratitude and humbleness for his support and energy. 

Abstract portrait purchased by my UK art collector. 

Abstract figurative portrait purchased by my UK art collector.

For me, art has always been about more than just creating art. It has always been about connecting with people through my art and in person. Having these two beautiful experiences with two of my clients, collectors and supporters was a touching experience that just showed me the real beauty of art and it is the human connection that we all share. 

Here with both of my clients...

Here with both of my clients...

From the Artist Canvas; Starting a piece by Carlos Delgado

It has taken me four years to realize that for me painting is not about creating a specific artistic aesthetic, rather it isabout my personal expression and the process of using creativity to say something. I want to share with you two short videos of painting and drawing and how I usually start the process. 

Beyond the Canvas, Art for Social Change. by Carlos Delgado

I have always felt that artists of our time have the social responsibility to use art not to just reflect the world around them but to engage the world around them in that reflection. This is why I was so happy to be awarded (together with Pathways to Education) this years Community Arts Grant by Toronto Arts Council. This grant allowed us to create a program of almost 5 months that allowed a group of grade 9 students to use sneaker art and installation to tell their stories of the world around them. 

As the workshops progressed we decided the shoes were a symbol of who we each were individually thus allowing the student full creative freedom in designing something that spoke to them and represented them. The sneakers were later to be turned into an installation which we wanted to  be a reflection of the community of Regent Park (which the youth are from) and what that community means to them. Originally we were planning on doing an installation with recycled art found within the community, but near the end of our program a young man who was just 18 years old was shot and killed in the community. This had an effect on the whole community and we decided to use art as a way to offer healing and respect. The panels hung behind the shoes became a language of support which youth filled with words describing the community and showing that Regent Park is a wonderful, loving and caring community. The shoes were hung in the shape of the heart in honor of the young man that was killed and to remind everyone of the power of love over hate. The installation was placed in the Daniel Spectrum, a hub of arts and creativity in Regent Park as part of February Black History Month Celebrations. 

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When artists step out of their studios and begin to engage with communities, this is when art truly becomes a representation of the world around us. I feel it is important to maintain this balance and use our art as a way to create access points for creativity to become an every day reality for all people. I feel honoured to have been able to run this program for over two years now across 5 of Toronto's priority (low income) neighbourhood with more than 200 youth. Sometimes all it takes is the passion of the youth, the comittment  of a few key community workers and an artist to create small changes with big impact. 

Thank you to Pathways to Education, Toronto Arts Council, Daniel Spectrum and Si Vous Play Sports for making this project a reality. 

Visual Arts and Dance; bridging the language of expression. by Carlos Delgado

For the last few years now I have been doing commercial live painting at events. It has been quite a rewarding experience that has introduced me to a lot of new and interesting people, seen many interesting things and had an opportunity to contribute creatively to many different events. I have been fortunate to paint live at many diverse events from private business events, public events such as Pan Am Games and Culture Days, and fundraisers like the most recent one with Toronto Arts Foundation and City of Toronto's Mayor.  I enjoy the challenges of creating a customized piece in a short time frame while having an opportunity to meet people and include them in the creative process. However, as I believe that an artist always needs to evolve (and I get bored quickly with the same thing), I wanted to see how I could push the expression of live painting in another format.

A few years ago my wife produced a dance piece called Stories That My Body Told Me. After the presentation we all talked about how we could continue to merge different forms of art together when the idea of blending visual art with dance came up. Forward to now, I am happy to say that the we brought this conversation into a reality in a creative collaboration between myself and one of the dancers from her piece Mateo Gilando Torres  and his dance company Form Contemporary Dance Theatre.  

 "I:Variations"  was presented at Burlington Center for the Arts and in Toronto in January of 2017. Below is a bit of the piece. 

"I:Variations is a solo created and performed by Mateo Gilando Torres with visual artist Carlos Delgado. The work explores the multiple realities that can coexist within one individual, and how these realities shift and mould through time according to circumstances and experiences. Carlos' live painting reflects back the layers of Mateo's consciousness seen and unseen. Music composed by Greg Harrison "

The process of fusing visual art with dance was a very interesting and new process of me from which both myself and Mateo learned a lot. Exploring how to tell a story of a feeling from apparently different mediums was a fascinating journey that had us experimenting with so many tangible and intangible aspects of  a performance. Using each detail, from light to type of canvas, to costumes, to music and silent moments, we brought to life a unified expression of different identities and expressions, at times seen and at times unseen. 

Sometimes it is easy to say, I am a painter, or visual artist, or I am a dancer and stay within the comfort zone of the craft which we have mastered or continue to master each day, but I think the fun lies in those moments when we step out of those pre-defined labels and simply say I am an artist; someone who uses a creative method to bring to life a story, reflection, a connection etc. 

The Constant Movement, Being Human in the System at Union Station by Carlos Delgado

This September 29, 2016 I had the honour of painting a mural with Ontario Culture Days for the opening of the three day festival. It was the fist time that I took my series Being Human in the System into a public space, especially a public space with such movement, where we are always going, moving, being part of our man made systems. It was also the first time that I did Being Human in the System on large scale. 

The response from people was amazing, a lot of people stopped, watched and I think found a little bit of something relatable in the work. Since then I have seen many people post this photo on social media sites with their own interpretation of what the work means to them and this brings me great joy. As an artist I love when my art inspires people to create their own story and project that story into the artwork, truly making it a part of them. 

I wanted to share here below a gallery of the process and a video that captures the feeling of Constant Movement! 

The capacity of the human being to stay strong in the system, being human in the system.

Notes from the Artist's Canvas; finding my artistic voice by Carlos Delgado

Go inside the life and creative process of a Colombian, Toronto based artist Carlos Delgado and the collective universal essence of art. 

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Where it All Started by Carlos Delgado

My artistic journey has been one of many ups and downs and even long breaks. Since I was little art was a part of my life and I was lucky enough to have parents, especially my father, recognize something in all of my sketches and doodles, which often caused me to be scolded by my elementary teachers for "ruining" all of my notebooks. For the last few years living in Canada I have been lucky to be able to give myself fully to my art and create a full time career out of it. This is why it was so special for me to hold my first solo show (in a commercial gallery) back home in Colombia where my family and my parents could come and for the first time see my work in such a professional context. 

I want to say thank you to all of my family and friends for support and for Gallery Carlos Drew Castro in Pereira at the Institute for Culture and Tourism in Colombia for inviting me to show my series Being Human in the System at such a beautiful space in the Museum of the Institute for Culture and Tourism. Below is a small selection of photos from the opening night which opened up with a large scale 7 ' x 12' live painting of one of my biggest Being Human in the System pieces yet. 

Photo credit by Alejandro Neira