As mentioned in a previous post, my sister, myself and a friend of ours decided to try our hand at painting. My sister had found this place called The Paintbar which provides canvases, brushes, and paints- along with instruction – for the price of a session.
Basically, you sign up for a class with the corresponding painting you’d like to make. There are many scenes to choose from, however it’s a small space and sign-ups are limited. It seems like a really popular place and the lessons sell out months in advance. We made our reservations back in February, and it was one of the last few remaining openings available in April.
The place was light and airy and looked like it could have been a yoga studio in a past life. The length of the room was set up with long tables. There were as many easels and canvases that could possibly fit side by side on each table. The first thing I noticed was that the place was filled with women. In fact, out of about 40 people or so, there were only two males (one of which was a young boy.)
We were greeted at the door, shown where we could hang our coats, handed a paper plate and directed to where the paints and smocks were located. There was overall excitement and camaraderie in the air and everybody was chit-chatting with their neighbors and getting to know their table-mates.
Once we had our paper plates filled with the allotted squirts of paint, we made our way back to our stations. It was a bit of a balancing act trying to maneuver around the various stools, tables, women and canvases trying not spill anything.
I kept picturing myself doing a faceplant right into the back of some poor woman with red and blue acrylic flying through the air and splatting in her hair and clothes. Luckily, that little image remained in my head and didn’t become a reality.
They had a little snack bar and wine and beer was served. We all ended up getting a glass, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to loosen up a bit. This was a birthday celebration, after all!
The instructor was really great and acknowledged some of the irrational fears a lot of us had (ack! my paint colors are touching!) while still charming us into following along and having fun. They had music playing and the whole experience was a blast!
The first few stages of the painting weren’t that difficult for me. I didn’t mind mixing the colors and doing the broad strokes for the water and sky and I was feeling pretty at ease and confident about the whole thing. There was even a little thrill with that first brush stroke, watching as the blue streaked across the white and marred it’s perfect surface.
I started to get a bit more nervous as the painting progressed. I think it’s because now I had something I could “mess up.” When I went to go paint the lights on top of the bridge, I could just imagine them coming out like giant grapefruits floating in the middle of the sky. It was a bit surprising how much courage it took to dip my brush in black and start trying to outline things.
The black outlines weren’t nearly as hard as the white highlights, though. At least black can sort of blend into the background, but the white really stands out. By far the hardest thing to do was paint the swans at the end. They’re just so big, and white and…curvy. If you mess those up, man, there is no recovering!
It was interesting to me to take notice of where my nerves came into play. I find it fits with other patterns in my life. I like to start things. I’m usually pretty good at getting something going. However, finishing projects is a challenge for me. Putting on the final touches and last minute details at the end always ends up being something I struggle with, or skip altogether. Now I’m wondering if it’s because I have a fear of messing up what I’ve already accomplished. I think this little exercise may have given me some insight to a few things.
Another quirk I realized (well, maybe not realized, but reaffirmed) is that I like to deviate from the plan. Although I liked the original painting well enough, one of the things I thought looked funny was the “boat” part of the swanboats. It just didn’t look like a boat to me. It looked more like a strange and funky island in the middle of the river with a swan on it.
So, I decided to skip the boat and just paint a couple of swans instead. I also decided to add a few daisies in with the tulips on the hillside. I’ve never been very good at following directions to the letter, and this was no exception. I like that my painting is uniquely mine because of that tendency.
So, here’s the original and final result. Granted, I’m no Monet. Yet, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. What do you think?