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  • Writer's pictureTina Rae

A Speed Painting Competition Experience

This weekend I experienced being part of a "brush off." I had never heard of one of these before, except in a different context, but a "brush off" is a competition with other artists where you are given a theme and you must paint your masterpiece in 20-30 minutes! The one I participated in gave us 30 minutes. That sure was a small amount of time to pull something together; however, I was up for the challenge and thought I would give it a try.


After applying last month I was accepted to be one of the 12 featured artists, which was quite an honour. I then spent the next few weeks seeing what I could paint in 30 minutes and I learned that it was possible. Landscapes were my strength, I could paint flowers, and I loved one I did of a wave, and Bob Ross helped me learn to master mountains. I also learned how to draw some silhouettes of people, but they weren't my strength, nor were people with any sort of detail. Painting people really takes me time. Without time or models, they just weren't cutting it.


I was a little nervous in advance. I did not know the themes and I really did not want to paint a person, because that would not likely turn out well. I was looking forward to having great time though, and they treated us well and even allowed us to keep the supplies that we were provided with! I also knew that any painting sold would get a 20% commission, with all other proceeds going to help sponsored children through Hope Story.

I was especially excited to get a few supplies that I didn't have yet, including a knife set (so I could paint mountains and flowers), some gel medium... (I will have to experiment with that later), and of course new brushes and paint to replace all my practice paints :)


Once we got there, we set up our stations and I was introduced to my assistant, Brianna, (who was more than happy to help) and when the time approached the theme was revealed... "Water."


I could not believe it! Of all my practice paintings, I had wanted to paint the wave the most, but I thought, "How will I ever get the opportunity to paint a wave? What could that have to do with child sponsorship?" Well clean water is an important need ... and a great topic for painting too.


I jumped right into it with a happy confidence knowing that I could do this! A quick sketch outline followed by the creation of a beautiful sunset surrounded by beautiful greens, blues and whites in the wave. Finally, I proceeded to the palm trees, which was where I first saw the nervousness kick in. My first palm tree trunk was a little wiggly. Fine, small details and pressure can certainly reveal the nerves. I had to sit back and take a break. I calmed myself and I grabbed a glass of water and then I carefully pulled it together and straightened out my lines.

Overall it only took me about 20 minutes. I looked at the time and wondered if I should do more, but when a painting is done, it's done. I was happy with the results and also pleased to hear some positive comments. I set it back on the easel (because I painted in the table surface) and proceeded to check out the competition.



After scoping out the competition, I felt good. I was sure I had a chance, a good chance, but when the 6 advancing artists were announced, I was not one of them. It was a bit disappointing, but I immediately understood why and I did not think it was a lack of talent. All artists were encouraged to bring supporters, but having traveled a bit of a distance, I did not have the people to vote for me. Everyone only had one vote and most likely would have cast it for their artist.

It wasn't all bad though. The piece went up for silent auction and it was really nice to have people intentionally come up and compliment me even though I was eliminated. It also turned out that the next topic was likely one I would have bombed on. "Education." That sure sounds like people painting to me. I still am not sure what I would have painted. All I could think of was classes and people learning and I did not want to draw people.


For this and the next round I was able to vote and help even out the voting, since I was not devoted to an artist. I and many others were able to pick and support our favourite paintings.


The final category was "Hope" which makes sense since the organization's name is "Hope Story." It was tough for the artists to finish because the canvas was so large, (You can see the other artists' paintings in the background behind Vanessa), but there was one piece which really stood out. I loved her concept and her paint brushing technique and the colours she chose. I, and many others, voted for her and she won. She also took the top bid in the silent auction of $300. Wow, but this painting deserved it.

Even though $300 seems expensive, Vanessa Drew is an artist with paintings in galleries across Canada and many of her paintings go for more than that. She brought one of her finished pieces in and it was valued at $450. Congratulations Vanessa!


Although it may seem like a bit of a disappointment for me to not go past the first round, I do not have any hard feelings. I had a lot of fun, I learned a lot, and I was treated well as an artist (I loved getting those supplies). I also had my highest painting sale to date. My painting went for $100, which was pretty awesome, and was one of the top bid on paintings in the silent auction.


Overall, it was a great night and a great experience.


Tina Rae


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