A little while ago I got the idea that it would be fun to get some friends together to do a Paint Nite. For the uninitiated, Paint Nite is where you go to a restaurant and they have all the supplies you need to do a painting – a canvas, paint, brushes, smocks – and an artist who gives you instructions on how to paint a particular picture. I emailed around to a bunch of friends to see who was interested, but given that people need to align on available dates, locations they can get to, and taste in art (since everyone is painting the same picture), I didn’t manage to get a group together. I did, however, find a date/place/painting that worked for both me and Cath (this past Monday) and another date/place/painting that worked for me and Amy (late August). And so it was that on Monday after work, Cath and I found ourselves at Nuba in Kitsilano wearing smocks and ready to paint!
To set the stage, this is the painting that we were trying to imitate:
Now, I should point out that the disclaimer on the Paint Nite website notes:
Paint Nite makes no representations or warranties about the quality of your painting or individual experience. Every painting will be unique, and the expectation that your painting will be a facsimile of the painting depicted on the Website is patently absurd. (emphasis mine)
I can only imagine the situation that lead to a frustrated legal writer penning this statement!
At any rate, we were told that the instructor would show us how to paint this painting, but we were free to change things up as we liked.
I feel like things were going OK for me as I painted the sky and the mountain – I decided I wanted to go with a darker sky and a blacker mountain than the original – and even the land on which the trees would sit. I didn’t love my trees at first – the instructor wasn’t giving very clear instructions at that point… he was mostly just saying “Do this with your brush” but not explaining what “this” was. And then when it came time to paint the water, things went totally off the rails. I had *no idea* what he was talking about and he seemed to be doing it all very fast, so I need up getting, well, this:
Then things went from bad to worse, as we were supposed to be painting some yellow (i.e., moonlight) on the water, but mine turned out way too yellow:
Yes, I realize that this looks like I have more of a wavy stream of urine than some moonlit water on the bottom of the painting!
I know that one evening does not a painter make and so I’m not just making excuses here, but I would like to reiterate that the instructor could have been a little bit more effective than he was. I would have appreciated some more specifics and, quite honestly, fewer cliché sentences like “Just feel the tree emerge from the brush”. Also, I know that this is supposed to be a “fun” and “nonjudgemental” good time, but I also could have done without comments like “These all look amazing! You are all doing such a great job!” because that, to borrow a phrase, was patently absurd. My painting is not, by any measure, amazing, and it wasn’t by any stretch the worst painting there. I’m not saying the instructor should tell us that our paintings look terrible or anything, but he just came across as completely insincere by doing that.
Anyway, I don’t think we did half bad for two people who haven’t picked up a paint brush in decades and, as Cath pointed out, we each reconfirmed that we made a good career choice in becoming a scientist.
Cath and her masterpiece
Me and my masterpiece
And, most importantly, we had a blast! I’m looking forward, to Paint Nite 2, The Repaintening. I’m hopefully that the instructor is a little better at the next one, though I think I’ll check out some YouTube videos on how to paint before then just in case!