Nanaimo painters Annabelle Bail, Skye Skagfeld, Brandon Riddoch and Joanne Purdy (clockwise from bottom-left) are compepting at the 2019 Art Battle Northern Vancouver Island Regionals at Nanaimo Toyota on June 1. (Photos courtesy Luke Connor Visual/Lexi Bainas/VIU/Trevor Baylis)

Local painters competing at Art Battle Northern Vancouver Island Regionals

Winner qualifies for the national speed-painting competition in Toronto

Nanaimo will be well represented at an upcoming Island-wide speed painting competition.

The 2019 Art Battle Northern Vancouver Island Regionals are coming to Nanaimo Toyota on June 1, and of the 10 competitors, four will be enjoying a home-court advantage.

Nanaimo residents Annabelle Bail, Joanne Purdy, Brandon Riddoch and Skye Skagfeld advanced to the regional round after being named winners of Art Battles in Nanaimo, Campbell River, VIU and Duncan. In the competition, artists have 20 minutes to create a painting, with the audience voting for the victors.

The Nanaimo painters will be facing off against artists from Vancouver, Qualicum Beach, Comox Valley and Campbell River, with the winner advancing to Art Battle Nationals in Toronto on July 25.

The Campbell River event in March was Purdy’s first Art Battle. She said she drew on her experience hosting a painting program on local television in Ontario in the early ’90s where she would have 24 minutes to complete a painting. At the Art Battle Purdy painted a pair of works depicting female figures and she was excited to hear she was the audience favourite. She said the experience was “addicting.”

Now that she has her first Art Battle behind her, Purdy has a better idea of how to approach regionals.

“I’m just going to do my own thing, and if the audience likes it, they like it, I hope…” she said. “You do have to have an idea, but just don’t be stuck to that idea and just have fun, because if you don’t have fun and you take it too serious I think it comes out in your painting.”

Skagfeld is another Art Battle rookie heading to regionals. She’s recently started to focus more on her painting and said the win in Duncan was validating. She won with a pair of outdoor scenes. Both were improvised, although she did some practice at home ahead of time with mixed results.

“I timed myself 20 minutes and I just did this weird kind of troll face and I thought it was really [bad] and I was in a bad mood going to this thing,” she admitted. “I was like, ‘Why’d I sign up? This is going to be so embarrassing.’ Then in the moment I think I just got kind of pumped up by the audience and everything so it just came through me.”

Her strategy going into regionals is to once again be in the moment.

“What went well for me with that first one was I had no expectations so I didn’t really get to think about it too much,” she said.

Riddoch, a VIU visual art student who hails from Parksville, took part in three Art Battles before winning the VIU event in October and advancing to regionals.

Riddoch painted a pair of landscape scenes: a wintery vista in Round 1 followed by a whale lounging on the coast in Round 2. He said he joined the competition because his friends were taking part and he was “quite shocked” when he won.

“The other [Art Battles] I was very hyped for, but this one was just a fun one I was doing just because,” he said.

Riddoch said he’ll be tapping into that mindset at the regional event.

“This time around I’m just going to kind of have fun with it, just not really practise beforehand, just kind of let it just come out,” he said.

Bail competed at two Art Battles in Victoria before winning the Nanaimo event earlier this year. She said she likes bring a political aspect to her work, which she said can be risky. She won the Nanaimo battle with an abstract nude woman figure that was a comment on beauty standards. She said she may address abortion at regionals.

Although the competition will be strong at the regional level, Bail is confident she can use the pressure and adrenaline to her advantage. But no matter how she finishes, Bail said she’s just proud to be included in the company of other talented artists.

“I feel really privileged that I get to paint with [nine] other artists that are really good at what they’re doing and we’re all here together at the final because we’ve all won the previous Art Battles,” she said. “So I’m just really excited to meet the artists and whatever result is happening, I will be happy about it.”

WHAT’S ON … Art Battle Northern Vancouver Island Regionals take place at Nanaimo Toyota, 2555 Bowen Rd., on Saturday, June 1 at 6:30 p.m. General admission $20, $15 for students and seniors. Tickets available online.

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