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Finnegans Wake took James Joyce 17 years to write, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel consumed four years of Michelangelo’s time and Beethoven needed about five years to complete his Fifth Symphony.

But artists participating in one of Waynesville’s most popular art events, Quick Draw, will get just an hour to create and complete their works of art.

Now in its 11th year, Quick Draw challenges regional artists to create a finished piece, ready for sale, in under one hour. Some 40 artists say they are up to the challenge, though it’s just the two-dimensional artists who are actually under the time gun. Metal, fiber and clay artists bring a pre-completed work to be auctioned off, in addition to  the timed works, at the end of Quick Draw to support arts education in Haywood County.

“Every year I say, ‘Never again,’” said oil painter Sarah Sneedon who travels to Waynesville to participate each year from the Caesars Head area in Upstate South Carolina. “It’s a lot of pressure. You sweat it, and you worry about it, and you try to plan down to the brush strokes and colors.”

Sneedon said she grew up in a family that was not artistic, one in which her father regarded those who were artists “as bums.” That background has made Sneedon all the more eager to support art education in the schools.

“I don’t have a lot of money to give, but I can torture myself once each year,” she said.

Some artists prepare for the competition racing the clock using kitchen timers. The practice — seeing how long their envisioned works will take them — can stave off the unfortunate problem of not quite being done when the bell goes off. That doesn’t always work, however. Real life can throw some real curves even at the most prepared of artists.

Last year, Sneedon remembered, she made the mistake of picking a technically challenging composition — two girls building a sand castle by the ocean.

“We got to five minutes to go and I didn’t have an arm on one of the girls,” she said, adding that she was forced to simply paint an arm in “fast.”

This year, Sneedon plans to paint sunflowers in the mountains. She’s yet to paint a trial run of the composition in the hour slotted for Quick Draw, but Sneedon expressed confidence that when the adrenaline kicks in she’d be able to complete the painting in the time required.

Artistic travails aside, QuickDraw has gotten so popular among area artists that the event — it’s not technically a competition — is now invitation only, said organizer Faye Wagoner.

“We have been blessed in that now we have such a following among artists and attendees we have more artists who are interested than who can actually participate,” Wagoner said.

This is the only event of its kind in the region, Wagoner said. There is a Quick Draw in the Highlands area, but that one allows artists a three-hour window instead of just 60 minutes.

Wagoner described Quick Draw in Waynesville as “an exhilarating evening. It’s just a terrific evening of fun.”

Some artists, like watercolorist Ann Vasilick, enjoys the challenge and competition of working beside other artists. She has selected a landscape in the Waynesville area to paint, which is out of this well-known artist’s bailiwick. Vasilick’s is best known for her buildings and street scenes, including those of Waynesville, and they are considered highly collectible.

She said she drove around the town until finding the particular view that attracted her, used photographic elements and did thumbnail sketches on the spot. Vasilick then returned to the studio to render a full-sized sketch of the painting. When this artist is unable to sleep, she would mentally paint the scene dozens of times.

Vasilick might be painting a landscape that is a little different than her best-known works but she plans on using the techniques that got her to the party: the meticulous and loving use of light and dark, volume and texture.

“I’ll use all the same elements I always use,” Vasilick said.

Complicating the task for Vasilick is the medium, watercolors, that she works in. She must be aware of the wetness of the painting and the necessity for it to dry within the required time. Many artists have blow-driers at the ready to hasten the process.

Oil artist Joyce Schlapkohl of Waynesville is looking forward to the competition with, perhaps, a bit of dread, too.

“I love it,” Schlapkohl said. “It’s stressful but exciting. When it’s over, it is nice.”

Schlapkohl, who has participated every year in Quick Draw, said she keeps trying to prepare a bit more each time.

“That hour really zips by,” she said in explanation, adding that she no longer says “hello” to spectators or friends milling past during the event. “I just try to stay focused.”

Schlapkohl said she believes all the artists involved are painting increasingly difficult paintings for Quick Draw. When the event started, she said, it was so new and unfamiliar everyone simply ensured they had a composition that could be completed within the required hour.

Schlapkohl’s technique is to break her anticipated painting down to basics.

“And I try to pick something I’m familiar with and that I feel that I can do in an hour,” she said.

Schlapkohl said she’s had people tell her before they actually enjoy her Quick Draw paintings more than her standard work, because it’s fresher. The artist also believes there is a value, beyond the important goal of supporting arts education, to the competition: “Anytime you push yourself as an artist that’s probably useful,” Schlapkohl said.


Art comes to life at annual Quick Draw in the Mountains

WHEN: 4:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28  

WHERE: Laurel Ridge Country Club, 788 Eagle Nest Rd., Waynesville

HOW MUCH: $50 in advance


Great art isn’t often associated with speed – the Mona Lisa wasn’t painted in an hour. Michelangelo took more than four years to perfect the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

But for the last 10 years, a special event has laid out a challenge to local artists: create a finished piece, ready for sale, all in under an hour. It’s not a simple task, but Quick Draw has proven a popular challenge for artists, whose pieces are auctioned off at the end of the hour to support the arts education in Haywood County.

Now in its 10th year, Quick Draw is a fast-paced event that provides a new environment for people to experience art and for artists to create it, while providing funds to support the next generation of artists.

For the artists themselves, the event supplies a challenge and a chance to interact with the public that the studio just can’t provide. And with space for only around 50 artists, Jo Ridge Kelley — artist, owner of Ridge Runner Naturals in Waynesville and Quick Draw committee member — said they’ve now had to make it an invitation-only event.

“You know, it’s become so popular that we have to say that it’s by invitation only,” said Ridge Kelley. “Now we work with the ones that have been faithful to Quick Draw all these years.”

One of those artists is Ann Vasilik. Vasilik is a Western North Carolina native whose watercolor paintings can be seen in galleries and public spaces around the region. For her, the challenge, the crowd and the buzz of artistic creation make the event a unique experience every year.

“I enjoy the challenge and then just adding the time element on top of that just makes it even more exciting for me,” said Vasilik. “I certainly love doing watercolor, and this is an opportunity to show the medium at it’s best.”

Not all of the artists at Quick Draw can work against the clock, of course. Some art, by its very nature, takes a lot longer than an hour to come together. But around half will race the time limit to get their creations completed before auction time.

With a bustling and interested crowd milling around, working for an audience can be vastly different to creating solo.

While strategies for withstanding the pressure from both audience and deadline vary, Vasilik said her preferred method is blocking them out completely.

“What happens at Quick Draw is I totally block out the audience in front of me — the sounds and what they’re saying — because I’m so focused on the painting,” said Vasilik. “I have a little sign on my board that says ‘right brain at work, speech impaired.’”

For the spectators, even if the artists are too busy to chat with them about their work, just watching so much creativity burst forth in one place is an exciting experience.

Ridge Kelley said she hears art lovers singing the event’s praises all year long.

“I have people come into our gallery and say it’s their favorite event of the year, they wouldn’t miss it,” she said. “The creative energy is what I hear the most about. It’s just so amazing to see that many artists all in one place.”

While an event like this is fun for both participants and onlookers, the point, of course, goes beyond simple art appreciation.

Quick Draw raised $13,000 last year to fund art in local schools, as well as funding two scholarships for students studying the arts at a collegiate level.

This year, according to Ridge Kelley, they’re shooting for the $20,000 mark and trying to fund three scholarships.

But in addition to the funds generated by ticket sales and auction proceeds, Vasilik sees the event itself as an opportunity to turn more and more people on to arts education.

“I think the journey through the painting is the exciting part, seeing it come together,” said Vasilik. “I think you gain appreciation for what the artist puts into it, and a large part of it is entertainment, so you want to educate and entertain at the same time.”


WHEN: Saturday, April 30 • 4:30-9:30

WHERE: Laurel Ridge Country Club • 788 Eagle Nest Rd., Waynesville

HOW MUCH: $50 in advance


Haywood County art teachers gained a boost to their teaching wish lists when members of the QuickDraw Committee met to award mini-grants to elementary, middle school, and senior high art teachers.

The grants were given at the Haywood County School Board meeting in October to fund original creative teaching ideas in school art programs. The grants enable art teachers to brainstorm and design school-specific projects to enhance their teaching curriculum, and often tie in with academic coursework. The art grants are funded through QuickDraw, an annual art fundraiser, reknowned for its lively atmosphere of creation and the chance to meet prominent artists and buy their works.

Since QuickDraw’s inception, $32,000 in teacher grants and $13,000 in scholarships have been donated to benefit art education.

According to Steve Brown, executive director of the Haywood County Schools Foundation, this is the ninth year that teachers have applied for and received funds through the Foundation from QuickDraw donations. QuickDraw’s art scholarships will be awarded in May at the annual Schools Foundation function honoring scholars and athletes receiving scholarship assistance through the Foundation.

QuickDraw is held the last Saturday of April each year. QuickDraw 2011 is slated for Saturday, April 30, at Laurel Ridge Country Club in Waynesville. Over 30 professional artists will work live at the event.

828.456.6584 or

Looking for a high-energy spring art evening that’ll make your jaw drop, open your eyes and please your palate, give a vantage point to view creation, and make you eager to come back the next year?

It’s time for Waynesville’s ninth annual QuickDraw, giving you front-row access to art in the making. QuickDraw’s lively art-while-you-watch event and benefit auction combines a window on the creative process with a fun way to help art teachers inspire students.

Forty professional artists set up studios in one location to create original art on the spot as guests watch the engineering process.

Half the artists volunteer to race against a 60-minute time clock in a traditional quickdraw challenge, while others create at a more relaxed pace. Following the timed art race, silent auction, and hors d’oeuvres buffet, the art is auctioned to benefit art in schools and fund scholarships.

The event is an annual draw for area visitors and art fans to watch and meet prominent regional artists hailing from Asheville to Andrews.

One-hour challenge artists who create start-to-finish in full view include watercolorist painters Ann Vasilik of Asheville and Gretchen Clasby of Knoxville (formerly of Waynesville). Oil painters include Sarah Sneeden of Cedar Mountain, Luke Allsbrook, and Jo Ridge Kelley of Waynesville. Bob Martin of Canton will paint sumi-e landscape (sansui).

QuickDraw attracts regional fine artists and artisans with a public showcase for their creative techniques, a challenging exercise to create ‘fresh’ work (freed from second-guessing), and a way to visibly show support for art in schools.

Guests gain a rare vantage point to watch artists construct their works from start to finish. ‘One-hour challenge’ artists race the time clock, using watercolor, oils, acrylic, pastels, colored pencil, metal, and mixed media. Artists carefully prepare for the challenge of intense, focused execution within the time window.

“There’s an excitement and energy about the evening that I enjoy. The challenge lies in getting done in an hour, on a painting that would by rights take me hours to do,” said Joyce Schlapkohl, an oil painter and Quick Draw volunteer artist. The first year as a participant, Schlapkohl recalls, onlookers would greet her as she worked. “I tried to talk back,” she said, “but soon realized you needed every minute to paint.”

In preparation for the event, pastel artist and QuickDraw volunteer artist Robbins Richardson sets up her studio space to replicate conditions of the QuickDraw moment.

“The easel on a table, my pastels, my coffee, even my kitchen timer. I chant ‘On your mark, get set, go!’ and I see what happens,” said Richardson. “Hopefully, I get it pretty close. I was still nervous last year; it’s anxiety-producing! Can I do the piece well enough in one hour so that someone will want it to take home at auction?...At the end of QuickDraw, back at home, I’m still vibrating, like my finger’s been stuck in the light socket.”

This year, Sarah Sneeden, oil painter, QD volunteer artist plans to execute a sunflower motif in oils at QuickDraw. She doesn’t mind the distractions of a watching crowd. “I have painted in some of the worst places in the worst times,” she laughed, “one hundred degrees, when they’re tarring roads. I’ve learned to roll past things.”

Alongside, demo artists create in process-intensive media at a less intense pace, letting them converse with strolling QuickDraw guests. Demo artists include metal and clay sculptors, potters, woodcarvers, textile artists and quilters, as well as mixed media, collage, leather, gourd, and basket artisans. After the high-energy hour, artists and patrons break for a reception to wind down, frame the fresh works, bid on silent auction art, and preview the live auction art. As the buffet winds down, the new art is matted and framed, and ready-to-hang. Live artists introduce their art on the auction block, adding humor and a backstory as they describe their marathon to a friendly audience.

At evening’s end, bid winners go home with art they can really talk about, art teachers get supplies on their project shelves, students win new creative outlets, artists have new exposure and new friends, and the audience has a vivid impression of step-by-step creation.


Want to Go?

What: 9th annual QuickDraw live art event & auction. 40 artists work live, including 60-minute race-the-clock challenge

Benefits: art teacher grants and college scholarships

When: Saturday, April 24, 5:30 pm

Where: Waynesville Inn Spa & Golf Resort

Tickets: $50 advance only, order early.

To order by phone, call 828.452.2432. Buy with PayPal at Buy in person with cash or check at these Waynesville and Sylva galleries: It’s by Nature on West Main, Sylva; in downtown Waynesville at Gallery 86, EarthWorks, Leapin’ Frog Gallery, Ridge Runner Naturals, Textures, Cackleberry Mountain, and Twigs & Leaves Gallery.

More Info: Visit or call 828.734.5747.


Quickdraw schedule

5:30 p.m. Terrace Social (cash bar) Get your bid number as artists get ready, get set ...

6:15 p.m. GO! QuickDraw’s Signature Live Hour Race-the-Clock Challenge Silent Auction begins.

7:15 p.m. Heavy Hors d’oeuvres Buffet Live Auction Art Preview. Nosh and chat as artists catch their breath, frame their works. Buy silent auction art, review your Live Auction faves

8:15 p.m. Live Auction The gavel rises on a fun, fast-paced auction, where artists describe the challenge and results.

More than 40 artists will race against the clock this weekend, crafting a piece of art from scratch in just one hour during the annual Quick Draw event in Waynesville.

Quick Draw will be held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25, at the Waynesville Inn and Golf Resort (formerly Waynesville Country Club.)

The event is insanely popular with audiences, who get a sneak peak into the creative process. Nothing brings art to life quite like peering over an artist’s shoulder while they work. Participating artists run the gamut: wood carving, porcelain, wet felting, fiber art, basketry, metal sculpture and painters of all mediums.

Artists set up their personal workstations throughout a sprawling banquet room where spectators can roam at will.

While a few artists give off an air of “don’t talk to me, I’m busy,” most are prone to chat it up with spectators as they prowl from station to station. The artists’ mini-studios for the night are interesting to see in their own right, containing all their tricks of the trades, whether it’s a welder’s soldering iron or a painter’s arsenal of brushes.

The event can be a little nerve-racking for artists, who typically mold and remold their artwork to perfection over days. Whether the Quick Draw painters forgo mixing just the right hue of green or potters declare “good enough” on the curvature of a sugar bowl, it is usually lost of the spectators who fawn over the pieces. Although artists are forced to succumb to the pressures of the clock, the artwork they produce is one-of-a-kind and stacks up well against any piece found in a store-front gallery.

When the bell rings signaling the close of the hour-long art session, a social hour affords spectators one last chance to check out the finished products and scope out their favorites pieces before a live auction begins.

The auction raises thousands of dollars each year to promote arts in the county. The money is used to min-grants to art teachers in the schools.

Tickets are $35. For more information, go to or call 828.456.6584.

Quick Draw in the Mountains raised a record amount of money this year off a live and silent auction that supports budding artists and art in the schools.

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