For my friend’s birthday (which was this past weekend – Happy Birthday!) last year I drove up to Milwaukee and we went to a beer and painting place in the middle of the day. Beer was not included in the price for the festivities, which was a bit of a downer, but the class was very fun.
It was my friend’s idea to go because she thought it would be helpful for her to get a little painting instruction. And what’s wrong with drinking beer at 11 AM? Nothing. So my friend, her sister, and I went for the three hour session and had a great time.
We were supposed to paint a giant goldfish, but I wasn’t feeling it. Neither was my friend’s sister. We both wanted to use the three hour session to create something of our own. At first I was nervous about going off the beaten path. We had paid for this “course” and there was an instructor to teach it. It was like school. And in school, I always worked very hard to do exactly as I was told.
Something as simple as painting while drinking beer (or cider) shouldn’t be a stressful situation. However, for at least five minutes or so it was. I was stressed as I sat in a room full of strangers debating whether or not I should paint a goldfish or just create something on my own.
Our first instruction was to lay down a base layer of paint in some shade of blue. I started with blue, then added some yellow, then decided I was definitely not going to paint a goldfish.
Instead of an orange and white goldfish in the deep blue sea, I created this.
I had been drawing trees for a while at this point and I wanted to try my hand at painting them with more detail than some of my other paintings (see My Serenity or Fierce for examples). In this painting, I included more focus on highlights and shadows as well as the bark itself. I wanted the tree to appear textured the way real trees do.
But I couldn’t stop there. At first I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the background. And with the tree so far to the left of the canvas there was a lot of empty space that needed filling. When I was a kid I would always draw a farmhouse on a hill with a tree in the yard. With all the open space on this canvas, part of me wanted to perform my old compositional favorite. I resisted the temptation, but still couldn’t figure out what the rest of my painting should be.
I think my new motto has become “When in doubt, drip it out.” I don’t know if you’ve seen some of my other work (like Peaking Disappointment or Reaper) but there is a distinct theme of dripping paint onto the canvas. It seems that I use it most often when I don’t know what else to do.
So I did it here. I dripped some red onto the hilly background and some yellow from the sky. I think it helps to activate the space, and it allows the tree to stand alone on the canvas. While perhaps not a masterpiece, it was my first time using acrylic paint in a while and I had a very good time with a very good friend while painting it.
Overall, the beer and painting session was a success. My friend painted a cute goldfish and I painted a cool tree. Everyone who was there was at a different skill level; some people painted the assignment if you will, and others painted their own creations. While a little pricey (especially since no drinks were included) it was a lot of fun.
If you’ve ever considered trying a beer or wine painting session with some friends, I suggest you do it.