The first thing that often grabs viewers about the creations by multimedia artist Christopher Tennant is the unconventional surface they're built upon. Tennant will be showing a diverse collection - both (watercolor and acrylic) portrait and still life paintings as well as sketches - in his solo exhibition at The Vanderelli Room opening Friday, Aug. 14. Despite Tennant's penchant for dexterity in his practice, the common element will be those fascinatingly unusual surfaces.

The first thing that often grabs viewers about the creations by multimedia artist Christopher Tennant is the unconventional surface they're built upon. Tennant will be showing a diverse collection - both (watercolor and acrylic) portrait and still life paintings as well as sketches - in his solo exhibition at The Vanderelli Room opening Friday, Aug. 14. Despite Tennant's penchant for dexterity in his practice, the common element will be those fascinatingly unusual surfaces.

Tennant rarely finds beauty in perfection. He's more enamored with something that's endured deterioration.

"I give myself the freedom to get rid of that and break it up a bit … in how everything is built to be perfect, but how I found much more beauty in the peeling back of those perfect layers," Tennant said of how he scores, cuts and gouges his wood canvases. "I started building my surfaces prior to painting on them to give them a little bit more life. I found [it becomes] a conversation that furthers the pieces."

While pleased with the outcome of these works, Tennant wasn't content to stay within one province of creativity. He decided to apply this approach to works on paper, sketches and watercolors after a happy accident.

"I've always wanted to be well-rounded. I've never wanted to be able to paint just one thing very, very well. I want to be able to paint all things as well as I can. A year ago it all clicked for me, and how to make [those elements] work together. I spilled coffee on a drawing and crumpled it up and was really pissed. I put it in a pile and two days later, I was like, 'wait a minute." I ripped the part of that had the coffee and kept going," Tennant said of how he began manipulating paper surfaces.

Now that Tennant has perfected this technique, he'll be exhibiting some early components - the "Lip Study" series (pictured) - of four large figure paintings he'll be constructing over the next year. The early works exude the immense potential of the series but are also wonderful compositions on their own.