About a year ago three friends and I attended a Paint and Sip session. When you attend such an affair you pay a small fee and then receive a blank canvas, a tray of paints, a glass of wine (or two) or other beverage of your choice, and the opportunity to participate in 2-3 hours of “copy art”. In copy art, the instructor tells you what to do, then s/he demonstrates and you copy. It is interesting and fun, especially for a novice painter such as myself, but it can become tedious if the instructor works at the pace of the slowest painter (not I!) and everyone waits and waits until each attendee is at the same point before the lesson continues. For a speed demon such as myself, this sluggish pace did not lead to creativity but rather the fatigue of non-participation and so I simply abandoned my leader and moved along at my own pace. With a finished product to replicate and occasion listening, I ended up with a fairly decent wine bottle representation with added touches, dashes, and flourishes of my own.
The instructor, unfortunately, was not a teacher. She knew some techniques and she had obviously led this lesson several times in the past, but she was not attuned to her students. We plodded, she yapped; we waited and she yapped some more. It was clear that the slowest painter was never going to finish but we patiently killed time just the same. During this “free” time the instructor filled any empty spots of air with criticism to her fledgling artists: “Too much color”, “Stop trying to fix that mess”, and “Please quit” were just a few of her remarks. Really makes you want to paint, doesn’t it?
But the class was still fun because I was with friends and dibbling around with colors is entertaining and critiquing non-teacher types is even more so. As a result I decided to host my own paint and sip with no pressure applied. Ten friends gathered at my home one evening excited to test this activity. Each easel was loaded with a clean canvas, water and brushes were at the ready, and an array of paint drops filled each pallet. I had a finished example to share so that I could explain what I had done, when and how, and also clarified some important steps like having a damp canvas, how to cover errors with white, tools available for special touches, and so forth. For those who were too nervous to self-launch, I led them step-by-step through the process. For those who just wanted to plunge, I let them go with maximum freedom.
As my friends painted, I wandered, offered advice, looked up other bottle shapes and backdrops on the Internet, and commended their efforts. While some replications were a bit on the mysterious side, like the command “draw a bottleneck approximately 1-inch wide” produced tiny traces and thin lines instead, but the idea was creativity and that was just how some translated my work to their canvas. Others, with amazing vision, added dogwood blossoms, fancy wine bottle labels, and intricate designs with delicate shades. The inner personality was exposed along with imagination and magical conceptualizations in each painting. The finished products were fantastic.
I recommend that you organize your own painting party soon. While first-time expenses are high because you will need to buy easels, paints, and brushes, the second go-round will only require more canvases. Practice the design first so that you have a good idea of what to paint and when, and then let the creative juices of others flow. Within three hours, everyone will have created a special masterpiece to take home, plus all will sense accomplishment and camaraderie through meaningful interaction and great laughs.