When the 29th annual ArtsQuest Fine Art Festival flings open its gates Saturday, the festival will be featuring the artwork of a face relatively new to the South Walton art scene.

Panama City-based Christon Anderson said he has been an artist all his life.

"As a kid I just drew with pencils and paper, and I took pencil and paper pretty far," he said.

It wasn't until high school that he discovered color.

Born and raised in the Florida panhandle, while in school Anderson stayed busy playing sports. His athletic skill and ability were recognized with him receiving both local and state accolades.

After a stint in the military Anderson returned home and studied drawing, becoming fascinated by the artistic visual possibilities of photography. He also enjoys fine-art portraiture.

The artist has developed a recognizable style using a variety of traditional mediums that both stand alone and meld, creating visionary, intuitive, abstract, three-dimensional works of art. His children provide endless inspiration.

Anderson credits an older cousin who painted as encouraging him to go further with his passion.

These days, Anderson paints houses most of the week, and art the rest of the week.

"I tell people that I am a painter and a painter," he said with a laugh.

Anderson has participated in ArtsQuest for the past eight years, but always missed the deadline to apply to be the featured artist. This year, he made the deadline and won designation.

"It feels pretty awesome," he said. "We tend to think we're the best every year, and this year we have the ribbon to prove it."

As for his style, Anderson said he is "everywhere."

"I don't stay in one lane. So, I just say, 'I'm an artist.' But I guess mixed media is the leader in the style I gravitate toward," he said.

All of Anderson's artwork at the festival will be for sale.

His custom artwork titled "Next Quest" is the featured image on all ArtsQuest marketing materials for the festival, including posters and merchandise.

"I have personally been a fan of Christon's work since I first met him at ArtsQuest many years ago," said CAA Executive Director Jennifer Steele. "His talent has often been recognized by our judges, and it is our honor to feature him and showcase his beautiful custom ArtsQuest creation 'Next Quest.'"

ArtsQuest began as a small community gathering in Grayton Beach in 1989. It now features nearly 200 exhibiting national, regional and local artists competing for the cash awards.

A Mother's Day weekend tradition, ArtsQuest is a juried show that will take place May 13 and 14 at Grand Boulevard's Town Center.

The festival will feature Anderson and more than 150 other artists in various mediums including ceramics, glass, oil, acrylics, photography, sculpture, metal, and wood. These artists come from around the United States and compete for awards and cash prizes totaling $10,000.

Heritage art demonstrations will also be offered during the festival, along with live music and entertainment. A cash bar will be available.

The event is open to the public. A $5 admission donation is requested.

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County is a local arts agency that supports the arts through leadership, advocacy, funding, programs and education.

For more information, visit www.culturalartsalliance.com.