Sitting in a small waiting room with a handful of artists at the Victoria Event Centre, Nicole Majcher felt a mixture of nervousness and curiosity.
The Fairfield artist had no idea what she would paint for the 20 minutes she’d be placed in front of a crowd of more than 100 people, moving closely around the easels, watching the creative process unfold.
But once her brush touched the canvas, Majcher got into her creative zone, painting sunshine with some skulls and hearts — something she uses a lot in her work. The battle was on for who’d create the best piece of art.
“It’s pretty nerve wracking because there’s people surrounding you, circling you and you are kind of the centre of attention,” said Majcher, who mainly paints animals, abstract and colourful images.
“I think that usually most artists paint in the seclusion of their studio, so it’s a very different environment…It’s very out of the ordinary, but it’s also a fun time.”
A year after her first time participating in Art Battle, Majcher has decided to sign up again.
Now in its third year in Victoria, Art Battle is held once a month and is simply live competitive painting. Performing in front of audiences between 100 to 250 people, local artists are given 20 minutes to create their best work with acrylic paint.
At the end of each round, the audience votes for their favorite painting and bids in a silent auction to take the work home. The top two artists from the first few rounds make it to the finals, where a winner is declared.
During the past eight years, more than 400 art battles have occurred in cities across Canada. Originally from Ottawa, Angela Hillier participated in an Art Battle in the nation’s capital and decided to start one in Victoria and Vancouver.
According to Hillier, there’s never a shortage of artists wanting to participate, and they range from established painters to rookies wanting to give the battle a try. The response from the audience has also been strong.
“There’s a lot of people who come regularly. It’s a really nice sense of community that I didn’t really expect when I started it. It’s nice to see that and how artists connect with each other,” said Hillier, noting the artists can paint whatever they want.
“Usually you paint alone in a studio and nobody really cares. This makes it a lot more exciting. I’ve always been jealous of musicians having that performance aspect and being able to invite people to an event.”
For Majcher, the art battle is a fun way to be involved in the art community, show people what she can do under pressure and get her name out there. She’s been painting for 12 years and would like to turn her artwork into a career.
The next Art Battle takes place on Friday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $20. For more information visit the Art Battle Facebook page.