It can take an artist months or even years to paint the perfect masterpiece, but a unique competition in Central Alberta has local talent fighting the clock.

For artists entering into this fast and fierce competition in Red Deer, the pressure is on.

“It’s a new type of experience – it’s kind of an adrenaline rush,” painter Heidi Mills said.

Artists have 20 minutes to create a one-of-a-kind work of art. All while circled by a crowd of onlookers interested to see how their paintings take shape.

“It’s hard to get into battle mode because there’s just such an awesome roster of talent there,” artist Christopher Carlson said.

Each artist has their own style. Mills says her works have a realism feel with a surrealism twist.

And Carlson, who’s from the Ermineskin Cree Nation, likes to “mix it up with a little political, along with traditional native aboriginal art.”

When the time is up, the crowd gets to decide who will be the ultimate champion.

But more than being crowned the winner, this competition gives local artists a chance to showcase their talents to the community.

“It just puts them on a whole new playing field,” organizer Joe Larson said.

This isn’t the first time Art Battle has been in Red Deer. The competition is back after a two year hiatus.

Larson says it was something the community kept asking for, and he brought it back to help new and emerging Central Alberta artists find a platform for their work.

“The interaction that people have with the artists walking around all the easels for 20 minutes and watching something unfold – a creation unfold – is just paramount.”

For Mills, it’s an experience like nothing else.

“It’s a blast, it’s messy, you have fun, and get to where you need to be, and hope for the best.”

Carlson, who’s been in the competitions before, has some advice for those thinking about entering.

“Plan your paintings; time it out, time yourself.”

There’s also the opportunity for the public to bid on the art afterwards, with half the proceeds going back to the artists.

The next Red Deer Art Battle is on May 19 and the winners from competitions across Alberta will head to Red Deer on June 23 for the Provincial Competition being hosted at Bo’s Bar and Grill.