I work at an agency filled with individuals so creative our dart board looks like a connect the dots drawing. When you’re surrounded by consistent daily examples of well executed expression, it’s easy to be convinced that you yourself are creative as well. Add in a glass of wine, and about twenty other people with the same idea, and you get Wine and Canvas.
Wine and Canvas hosts events every month across several major cities; it’s a concept that combines an intimate setting at a local restaurant with an artist who instructs the guests step by step to create a specific piece of art.
You can attend the event that either meets your availability or in my case, I went to the one that had a painting I liked. (I found out later it was one of their more complicated pieces to make!) So on a Wednesday evening, I drove north of San Francisco and found myself in a little Italian restaurant, sipping a glass of syrah, and desperately trying to mimic the artists easy brush strokes as she sketched out a thin green line.
Although they promised, no experience necessary, I have to be honest with you… not only was it challenging but surprisingly, I found it to be an emotional process. Part of creative expressions is releasing and letting go of the things you feel inside and giving them a voice. There are techniques that play a part in the quality of the execution but in addition to the struggles to find the right way to hold my brush and the right amount of water ratio to paint, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t trying to paint what I saw, but what I felt; it had to be my tree – and what did my tree even look like? Was my road made out of bricks? How were my clouds dancing in the sky?
In the end, I gave myself over with a sense of wild abandon, I slathered on paint fiercely, and just committed to the decisions, telling myself if it didn’t feel right to keep working it, over and under and through. When I finished, I wasn’t even sure if I liked it, I was still so caught on the details of every whisper of thought embedded in acrylic, the small choices and critiques that were often the result of a mistake than any attempt to be a perfect duplication.
The evening lasted just about three hours. We held up our canvases proudly as the artist snapped photos of us and at that point we were able to pause and look around. Every painting was different, with variations that ranged depending on the individual artists’ style and technique and decisions to include or disregard a particular instruction. One gentleman painted an entirely different scene with barely any resemblance, more a cubed Picasso-esque interpretation; it reminded me of dreams on acid. Another woman painted the yellow brick road to Oz with the Emerald City in the background.
Later, when I was at home, I put my painting on a shelf and eyed it critically from a distance. It’s no million-dollar masterpiece, but it’s pretty cool. To letting go and diving in, cheers.