For those not in the know, there are businesses out there where you get instructed on how to paint a picture while you drink. It's awesome because you pay to attend and they give you the supplies and some guidance -- you don't have to go spend a ton of money buying huge amounts of art supplies to try your hand at painting. And there is alcohol. My brother and sister-in-law had gone several times down in Texas, and I'd get bummed because there was nowhere around here to do it. Now, however, there are at least 3 different places that I have been able to attend an event.
If you've never been, you should try it! I love doing these things, and now have my own small art collection of dubious quality. (That would be due to my skill level and/or the amount of alcohol consumed. I'm not making any kind of a comment on the instructors I've had -- they have all been lovely.)
As I have been to a few of these shindigs, I can tell you that they are all pretty similar. I can also tell who has never done anything like it before and is way too serious and nervous about it. No one is getting graded, folks. It's just for fun! To that end, I thought I would share some tips and observations that might be useful to someone considering going for the first time. And it may not be helpful at all. Honestly, I'll probably never know unless someone freaks out on me and tells me I'm full of crap.
What to Wear
Not as easy as it may seem. You're not going to a friend's house to help paint a room in raggedy clothes because you are going to be making a mess and probably drinking (and eating pizza, the bribe food of choice for friends who want you to help them paint, move, etc.). You are actually going to be out in public with other human beings.
You need to look nice and presentable, yet don't wear anything you value too highly. There is still alcohol and paint involved, which can make things interesting. Even if you have the utmost confidence in your own coordination abilities, you will be in pretty close quarters with a lot of other people. There is no guarantee you won't end up sitting next to someone who is a total klutz and will have paint flying everywhere, or decide that it would be a good idea to get totally hammered and feel really creative, or is just a lightweight who will be drunk from one glass of wine. I'm not saying an accident will happen and your clothes will be ruined -- you do get a protective apron to wear -- but I haven't been to one yet where everyone came out unscathed and all the paint stayed on the canvas. You have money to burn and want to buy a fancy new outfit for it? Be my guest. You've been warned.
Also, I have not been to one where someone wasn't taking pictures. Even if you and your friends aren't the camera-happy members of the group, there will be pictures at some point. Someone will be taking selfies, or taking pictures of their friends while they are painting. At the very least the person running the class will take pictures at the end. This is their business, after all, and they want to document and share its success. You might very well end up on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter proudly displaying your masterpiece.
The whole point is to have fun! You do not have to be a trained artist to do this. You do not need to create an exact replica of the demo that is displayed. You do not need to do it exactly as the instructor is as he or she walks you through it step by step. The beauty is in the creativity! You are taking a concept and putting your own spin on it. Don't flip a shit and stress out because it doesn't look "perfect". This is art: it's creative and messy and not perfect. Whatever you do is going to be delightful and very much your own. Have a drink and chill out.
Friends, you might be wondering why I am all sorts of hyped about these things. I just went to one this afternoon with my BFF, and we had a good time. I think other people would like it to, some I'm sharing.
The event we went to this afternoon was for a picture called "Whimsical Tree". It was a cool picture, and it was also a socially-acceptable excuse for day-drinking.
Yeah, we didn't paint this. This is the demo picture from the advertisement.
We arrived, got our alcohol (priorities, people!), and got our seats. We've both done these things before, so we know the drill: get there early to get seats together, where you can see the instructor, and beat the line at the bar.
I'm ready to go, and the chocolate stout is delicious.
You always start by doing the background. Yes, I realize that is stating the obvious. The instructor gives you the general steps for the shading and blending, but it is really pretty free-form. You can vary the colors, the placement -- whatever floats your boat. My brother told me he always sneaks in a UFO somewhere in his pictures. This is also when you can look around and see who is taking direction way too literally. Trust me -- there will be people who freak because their picture does not look exactly like the demo or the instructor's version. They will get all frowny-faced. There will also be people scoping out what the person sitting next to them is doing, and trying to copy it rather than doing their own thing. (I had a copier sitting on one side of me today, and it wasn't my BFF.)
I'm good at doing the backgrounds. It's when you go to put the big, dramatic foreground elements on that things can go horribly wrong. That is why I usually take a picture of the background when it is done. I can at least cherish the moment it looked really good before I potentially screw it all up.
Yeah, I really like green. I used a lot of it. Bonus points for not looking like a lot of the others....well, except for the chick next to me who was trying to copy.
The next step is the panic-inducing moment where you have to take black paint to your beloved background. It can all go to hell in a hand basket as soon as the brush meets the canvas. Work with what you've got is my only advice. Got a shaky hand and can't do straight lines? Don't paint them. Make a mistake by dribbling or smearing? Work it into the design and/or paint over it. There is no eraser. Often they will tell you to embellish away -- the more the better. You really need to determine for yourself when enough is enough. There is such a thing as overkill, but is it awesome to see how differently people decide where the "too much" line falls.
My favorite part is the end when you can see what everyone else has created. I love that every person in the room was given the same instructions, the same materials, and they all come out so wildly different. Each one has it's own scale, color scheme, and design elements. So many different variations on the same concept.
My tree is on the left, my BFF's is on the right. Disregard the fry holder. We were drinking and needed food. No judging.
I just find it fascinating, Friends. Her background reminds me of Van Gogh for some reason, and my tree looks like it would be happy in The Nightmare Before Christmas, or anything Tim Burton, really. Neither one looks much like the demo version, and I think that is the best part.
The whole thing took about two and a half hours. When we left there were still people painting away. Some of those people also seemed to be more than a little tipsy, so they might have been moving at a slower pace. It was a great way to spend the afternoon, and I think it would be fun for everyone to try at least once.
And because I am kind of in love with my little tree painting at the moment, here is another picture of it.
I <3 you, tree!
Whether you ever do one of these things or not is up to you, Friends, but I urge you to do something creative. Write a poem. Draw a picture. Compose a song. Make a quilt. Sculpt a vase. Anything. Let your imagination wander. You don't even have to share it with anybody -- just do it for yourself. Don't become one of those people who are afraid that everything they do is somehow wrong, or not "perfect" enough.
And now I will leave you with some Bob Ross. Maybe it is because we were painting a tree, but all I kept thinking about was Bob Ross and his "happy little trees".