Cate and I recently went incognito to a bottle and brush event to research how the “pros” get “cons” like us to produce really crappy art while drunk.
This was part of our research into our presenting really cool painting parties of our own. It was a very interesting and enlightening experience.
My mission of making art and the creative process accessible to everyone is always evolving. As I noticed and spoke to the others in the room with me, I sensed a kind of quiet, mindless pleasure, as they successfully followed very literally the teacher’s precise and fun step-by-step instructions on exactly how to produce the final image for the evening.
If I seem cynical about the ART/WINE painting party model, please understand that I feel just the opposite. I have always found it intriguing and wanted to understand why these places are always filled with people. The people who came up with this concept and present these events have succeeded in turning my very egalitarian mission (painting for all) into a profit-making business venture.
Obviously, the business model is working very well and I’m not sure if my efforts to improve on their success will not backfire on me. I highly doubt they will, as I am committed to making sure anyone who comes in my door is successful. However, I think there will need to be some effort made on my part to come to what is a proven model. This is not about creativity or releasing the artist within. This is about being successful in duplicating whatever the teacher puts in front of you, like a good little student. It is not about going out on the limb. It is about keeping it simple and making sure everyone is successful in recreating the same painting in the same way.
I realize I will be walking a fine line as I present painting events in my studio. I have several scheduled and have tested my own model with some exciting results. I’m confident that anyone who comes to our events will enjoy the experience.
The experience at the event we attended certainly opened my eyes to the expectations people will likely be bringing to our events. Who knows, some may become inspired to dig a little deeper into the process and may want to sign up for an classes. Among the several questions we asked in class, was “what happens to those who want to go further and learn more about painting and develop their art?” Imagine my delighted when they told me they lock me into a room for a private lesson with one of their teachers, after which you come out wearing a beret and speaking like an existentialist.
Below are our two versions of what we ALL painted at the event. Cate made an effort to do exactly as instructed (she’s a good girl on right). Naturally, I couldn’t resist making a few changes, despite their kind efforts to help me stay on track (bad boy on left).
It was fun. Anytime we get to play with paint is, and should be, fun. I think that is the moral of the story. Painting is pleasurable and that has certainly been my goal for years as a teacher and as an artist. Everyone has their own comfort level and my job has always been to respect those boundaries, while ever so gently pushing to expand beyond them. Not everyone wants to be the next Picasso.