Speed painting

Posted in: Art, Creative | 0
A small sketch completed in 20 minutes of a night market.
A small sketch completed in 20 minutes of a night market.

I have been practicing for Friday’s Art Battle painting competition, and have learned so much! I didn’t realize speed painting was a thing, but it’s fun. With the way my week has been going, there is no way under normal circumstances I would have made half a dozen paintings! This experience has gotten me painting. Here are a few of the things I’ve been working through:

The number of brushes and tools needed to make one of my 20-minute paintings.
The number of brushes and tools needed to make one of my 20-minute paintings.

I’ve relied heavily on the mixed media style over the past ten years. I love being able to build up my pieces using collage and pastels and coffee and leaves etc. I have only occasionally attempted a painting with ONLY acrylic paint. I don’t love it! Plus, a lot of my paint is drying up so I’ve had to concoct some substitute colours for the palette I’ll be using at art battle. This takes a lot of time! But I’m learning what I can create with this palette and how to replace some of my favourite colours by mixing something similar.


Normally I paint in stages, working on a piece and then letting it dry for weeks before I get back to working on it again. Considering I’m parenting three kids, this is not surprising. And my “studio” is just a corner of the kitchen. So working on a complete acrylic painting from start to finish in 20 minutes has taught me so much about which order to apply the paint, which tools I need on hand (the vast number of brushes!) and how to get the most bang for my buck quickly.

Prioritizing has also been hard. I’ve had a particularly busy week, with my husband being both in school and working all weekend, finding myself solo-parenting a lot. There was one day where I just asked my kids for 20 minutes to work on a sketch. My oldest daughter babysat our 7-month-old, which was great, but my 6-year-old quickly lost interest in watching me paint and started pestering me for a brownie! I banished him to another room. The next day, I found a package of macaroni in my husband’s boot. I realized he had opened it to eat the cheese powder! He confessed that he had just been so hungry that he ate it while I was painting. I felt like the worst mom ever at that moment! But as all parents know, these sometimes crazy and funny things happen and I have to keep going and try to balance everyone’s needs and demand.


I currently have five ideas for my painting for round 1 of the art battle, and I am trying to practice each one and see which one is truly attainable with wet paint in 20 minutes. I want to be true to my own style while at the same time playing with new ideas. It’s easy to look at past art battle images and want to imitate the winning styles – for example, everyone connects with portraits. But it’s not my style! I think both abstract landscapes and cityscapes are my style. Abstract expressionism is something that works for me in a time crunch.


I signed up for this art battle as a risk-taking experiment. I just took the plunge. Any time I have done this sort of thing, it’s helped me move forward. This is going to be terrifying and exhilarating! My goal is not to win, but to show up. It may be really hard – it might not turn out – my painting may not sell or get any votes. But for me, this is about putting myself out there, being real, and just showing up.


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