A thousand dollars is up for grabs to the artist who can create the best painting in three short hours.
For the second time, Birthplace of BC Gallery owners Brenda and Kurt Alberts are hosting a Great Painters Challenge Sunday, Aug. 5 in the gardens outside their Fort Langley facility.
Tents will be set up around the gardens of their art gallery, providing ample room for all 13 B.C. painters in the competition, plus a handful of other artists (potters, jewelry makers, sculptures and other painters) who will simply be offering demonstrations throughout the afternoon, Brenda explained.
"They have three hours and they can't draw, but they can paint whatever they want," she said, calling it an Olympics of sorts for artists and claiming the fact that this event coincides with the Olympics in London is purely coincidental.
"Just like an Olympian, our competitors in this contest are pushing themselves," she added. "They want to win" most stepping out of their comfort zone by daring to paint in front of a crowd, work outdoors (some for the first time), and to create under the gun.
With that in mind, Brenda has decided to offer up gold, silver, and bronze medals for the winners, plus loot.
Most of the artists are from Langley and the immediate area, but one will be coming from Salt Spring. She noted two of them will paint with watercolours, while the rest will work in acrylics. Many of them are traditionally more detail-oriented artists, having to venture into the world of abstract because of the "insane" time crunch.
"It's very exciting to see what they're going to come up with," Brenda said, noting that the artists will arrive with their easels, equipment, and blank canvases (of all different sizes), ready to go to work at exactly noon.
"The public will be asked not to interact with the competitors during the event," Brenda added, noting that some spectators are coming from Calgary, as well as West Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Coquitlam - a few of them are expected to be there from beginning to end, watching a piece come to life. One, in fact, is expected to videotape the process.
"It's a real learning experience," for all involved - specators and artists alike, said Brenda, who's been working on this challenge for months.
She and Kurt first hosted a smaller, but similar challenge to mark the gallery's 10th anniversary back in 2006. That competition featured 10 artists and 10 judges.
This year, there are more competitors and bigger prizes, Brenda said.
"We're heading into our 17th year, and we really felt it was time to step it up and celebrate with a competition," she said.
With 13 artists signed up for this year's event, a few return offenders and others new to the challenge, Brenda said she's sensing a more competitive nature to this year's event.
Competing artists will include Alan Wylie, Allan Hancock, Amanda Jones, Brent Heighton, Carmel Clare, Dianna Ponting, Heidi Lambert, Jack Turpin, Janice Robertons, Joyce Trygg, Linda Muttitt, Lyle Longstaff, and Perry Haddock.
When the three hours are up, and while the judges are deliberating (and they have only an hour to select the top three), the Hard Times Blue Grass Band will perform in the garden and the artists will then be available to mingle with the guests before the winners are announced at 4 p.m.
In addition to the $1,000 first prize being funded by HSBC Bank Canada's Langley branch, the second-place painter will receive a silver medal and $750 from Erick Woodward, and third earns a bronze medal and $500 cash from National Bank Financial. As well, Classic Gallery Framing has sponsored a People's Choice Award, with spectators picking which artist will receive $500 worth of framing.
On top of vying for prizes, many of the artists are also hoping to sell their pieces on site Sunday, and in the past many have gone immediately, Brenda said.
All remaining paintings will be on display at Birthplace of B.C. Gallery following the show.
The annual B.C. Day long weekend has become synomymous among some art lovers for the gallery's Rivers, Rails, and Trails Demos in the Garden that has been going on for 10 years.
So, in addition to Sunday's challenge and demos, the demos will continue Monday afternoon as well, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The gallery is located at 9054 Glover Rd. in Fort Langley.