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Community Connex with True Daley: Painting with Stardust

7 October 2011 One Comment

True Daley

By True Daley

“Black men, we’re never called sexy. We’re called athletic, intense, we’re described as being the strong type, the silent type. But we’re never really described as being sexy… in general the word sexy doesn’t apply to black men, particularly …”

- Idris Elba

The spectrum of images portrayed in mainstream media of black men, range from cocky, athletic and hyper-sexual, to violent, stupid and detached. Toronto-based visual artist Eye Candy Kamel (pronounced Camille) has been depicting black men as she sees them: beautiful.  One of her creative goals is to capture the essence of the African male through her celebrity portraits, which feature artists such as Drake, J Cole and Jay Z.

Although the power and beauty of black men inspire her the most, her work is a visual celebration that expresses her love of pop culture and her talents in the fine arts.    While attending Ontario’s College of Art and Design, she developed a signature style influenced by abstract techniques and inspired by luxury. Her ability to perfect this technique without having the colours blend together caught the eye and admiration of her professor Chinkok Tan, who taught her how to paint shapes and light value.


“If I was painting a landscape or a portrait, what I learned was to look at the shapes. The shapes of the shadow and the shapes of the highlights, so instead of trying to reproduce what I was painting, I painted anything I could imagine. In my last year, I went to the Andy Warhol gallery in Pittsburgh. First there was a connection with his subject matter and the way he did his work. When you went up close you could see that some of the surfaces were sparkling. He actually used diamond dust and I started out trying to find the real diamond dust. ”

Instead she tracked down Swarovski crystals and has been using them ever since. “Crystals symbolize happiness and beauty. If I can think of something heavenly and pure, I think of light, and crystals capture the glory of God. People are attracted to light and beauty, and that’s what I want my art to reflect.”

The native Floridian says her use of vibrant colours was sparked by her psychedelic surroundings. As a child, she remembers living in different homes painted in lime green, pink or yellow. She also credits her supportive family for boosting her self-confidence as she pursues a non-traditional career path.

“When I was a kid, my father saw that a lot of kids were drawing on the walls, and he gave me some paper and crayons and enrolled me in classes, once he realized that was my strength. I’m glad to have parents who were willing to invest in my talents and allow me to grow.”


Kamel’s focus and perseverance have given her countless opportunities to meet and present her work to the entertainers she’s painted, including Kid Rock, Tasha Smith, and Common. After learning Drake would be visiting Toronto to do an autograph signing at HMV, she immediately went out, bought a canvas, and began painting him. Acting on faith, she created a fake wristband made of Scotch tape, to serve as a reminder that she would be hand-delivering her portrait to him in person. When Flow 93.5 announced they were giving away a limited number of tickets to secure a spot at the signing, she called the station repeatedly for a week, and eventually won. The hip-hop icon loved her work so much, the portrait is now in his home.

The daughter of a Haitian social entrepreneur and an African-American actress, is looking forward to the next stage in her career. Motivated by the humour, genius, and business savvy of Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami, her ultimate goal is to be commissioned to do large scale celebrity portraits “I’d love to start off live painting for 15 minutes and then go home work on it, complete the final product, and see it in their homes.”

J Cole

Kamel hasn’t let go of her initial goal to create diamond-encrusted works of art, and says it would be dream to work with ‘Jacob the Jeweller’. In the meantime, she’s expanded her talents to fashion design, and hopes to add a new dimension to the images of our favourite male rappers in an upcoming exhibit.

“Rappers and black men are always seen as confident and harsh but not beautiful.

I’m doing a show painting several rappers portraits, and exhibiting them beside their birth flowers. It deals with beauty, confidence and intuition, because I’m painting these portraits before knowing their birth flowers. The art is my guide. It will show the softer side of these strong black men.”

For more info on Kamel, visit www.eyecandykamel.com

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One Comment »

  • web said:

    Here we go, now we want black men to be painted with the same brush as a certain other poor suckers. Now if we don’t fit certain molds , size of penis, length of legs, straightness of nose and every other gay krap that can be thrown at a man, then we can’t be included in the sexy group. Perhaps you should just leave us alone with our strength and confidence or you risk stripping us of that. We don’t judge women by how many visible ribs we can count and thats because we are confident enough to like what we like, please return the favor.

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