Blood and Wine on the Canvas
A nice cold white with some mussels. A warm full bodied red and a good book on a cold night. A frosty beer on a summers afternoon, after a hard day’s work. I can think of lots of ways in which I enjoy consuming my alcohol, and as you can see, with a night of artistic endeavour is not one of them.
However, here I find myself, on a mild Sydney Wednesday night, glass in one hand, brush in the other, bright white canvas looming ominously over me.
Due to a sudden pang of fear that my thirties have thus far been a monotonous bore, I decide I need to get out more. I’ve been hearing about the great fun to be had at group art classes, but bear in mind that my last foray into the artistic world consisted of me, sat at the back of my year 9 art class, graffitiing the desk rather than the canvas.
Walking into Cork and Canvas on Oxford street, the atmosphere is tinged with an air of bawdiness that only the promise of midweek night out drinking can bring. In one corner is a work bonding group, in the other an engagement party, in between is a nervous radio man.
The art bit- drawing, painting etc- genuinely puts fear into my heart. Being bad at something is a fear we can all understand, right? My nerves are somewhat calmed midway through my first glass, and then I am introduced to our teacher, ‘Sen’ (short for Seńor, don’t ask we are told).
A man of such calm surety, he is so certain that we will all leave with a work of art, that I am damn near convinced myself. His first bit of advice is not to confuse our paintbrush glass with our wine glass. He earns my trust there and then and I hold my wine tight. I am two glasses down now, my confidence is slowly creeping up.
I get to work. We are set the seemingly simple task of painting the whole canvas any colour or mixture of colours we would like. I choose the dotty method. I don’t expect that that is the accepted nomenclature, but after three glasses of wine and no dinner I have bigger problems at hand.
Enter our second artistic shepherd, Lucy. Another teacher with a calm disposition, her gentle Liverpudlian accent softens and sells any constructive critique. But, through no fault of her own, she lost me at primary colours.
In what seems like no time at all, or whatever four glasses is in time, ‘Sen’ bellows ” in twenty minutes, you should have your background finished”. Anxiety beckons and I dot and poke my canvas with such half-trollied ferocity that I need three hands. One to hold my wine, one for the brush and one to stop the canvas hurtling across the table into the face of the opposite unsuspecting painters.
As my pace quickens, as does my bottle volume decrease, all of a sudden I realise that I’m a natural. Ideas are flowing, the day I have just had has fallen away, by the time the Banksy stencils come out I’m loving it.
At this point I will fast forward for you all, mainly because I may have lost track of the wine count…
I am done. I am spent. Blood, sweat, tears and a wee bit of paint is on the canvas. It is a genuinely cathartic experience, relaxing, confusing and out of my comfort zone.
Above all, Cork and Canvas is a night of infectious, communal fun. From the banter with your fellow classmates, to the odd sing-a-long (there was a particularly rousing rendition of Aerosmith’s ‘Don’t wanna miss a thing’ by my cohort) and of course there is eventual gratification of a finished canvas of your own creation to take home.
It may not have been my ideal drinking companion at the start of the night but by the end I am a convert. Getting out isn’t so bad after all.
What: Cork and Canvas
Where: 106 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
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