New Year, New Adventure: A Trip To The Painting Lounge

New year, new post!  Granted, it’s taken me almost a year to write a new post, but we shan’t dwell on that.

I’ve been on a few adventures since my last post.  Going to the New York City Ballet, seeing Sleep No More (serious tangent, this show, Holy Cannoli.  Whether you like it or not, it’s worth seeing because there’s no way you can leave that show without an opinion), becoming a redhead for a hot second and a handful of other things went down last year.

This year’s inaugural adventure took me to the Painting Lounge in Williamsburg (thanks to Time Out New York’s “Self-improvement guide 2013: Ten Classes to Try”.)  Being an artist, I love being able to use other mediums and I’ve always wanted to paint.  But painting and drawing are not my calling.

Drawing Attempt

I draw a mean break dancing stick figure

But the Painting Lounge, like some insanely awesome beacon in the night, understands that there are people like me out there who are dying to paint, but have no desire to look like an idiot while doing so.  Hence their BYOB painting classes where they teach you how to paint masterpieces by Monet, Warhol, Picasso, etc.  Can I get a hellz yeah?

HELLZ YEAH!

HELLZ YEAH!

I signed up for the Claude Monet’s “The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset” class and went armed with a six-pack of Woodchuck’s hard cider.

Our painting: "The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset" by Claude Monet

Our painting: “The Cliff, Etretat, Sunset” by Claude Monet

Because you never know.

Because you never know.

First off, the space is awesome.  It’s intimate enough so that everyone gets attention, but there’s enough space so that you can avoid the girl that might be giving you some side eye (which didn’t happen, but I like to know I’m covered just in case).  They have an amazing playlist going to get you in the artistic mood for the piece. Plus, the staff (big up to Liz and Kevin!) are kick ass artists who help you unleash your inner Van Gogh while guiding your unsure hand without patronizing you.  And without encouraging you to cut off your ear.

Right before class started

Some of the paintings they’ve taught classes on

Essentially, the staff take you step by step through creating the painting.  You start off with super basic stuff, so basic that you start to question whether it really is that simple or if they’re pulling your leg and are secretly laughing at your gullibility.  But it really is that simple.  As with anything, you have to start with building blocks.  The tricky thing is keeping all the blocks straight so that they actually come together to create the initial vision, or, since I’m feeling particularly pun-y today, the bigger picture.

How we started off

How we started off

Look at me go!

A whole lot of yellow…

Then....

It’s starting to make sense!

This girl?  So not playin!

So much concentration, so little time…

The hardest part for me was letting go of perfectionism and trusting that I was doing great and that my work didn’t resemble, as one of my fellow painters put it, the smoke monster from Lost.  Having the staff on hand to give pointers and feedback was particularly fantastic because I found I wasn’t as free-spirited with my painting as I had thought.  I was far too controlled and needed to be a little “wild” in order to make it work.  In the end, every mistake was fixable and didn’t take away from the painting, but instead added to its character.

Because I’m fond of trying to find ways to improve myself (I know, you’d have never guessed that from reading this blog), I found that a lot of that applied in my own life.  There are times you just need to “breath, stretch, shake, let it go” and not stress out about getting everything exactly right and perfect because that’s not the point.  Sometimes the point is to just go with the flow and follow through as best as you can. I went to the Painting Lounge with a mission to get boozed up while painting a Monet and ended up with a life lesson.  Go figure.

Letting go and having fun. Boom!

Letting go and having fun. Le boom!

Once I relaxed and let go, everything went pretty fantastic (and that’s without the influence of hard cider).  I followed my instincts as best as I could and when in doubt, I asked Liz and Kevin for pointers.  However, 95% of the way through, I still thought my painting made no sense and would in no way resemble Monet’s original. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone because pretty much everyone in the class felt the same way about theirs.

Then, like the friggin Delphic Sibyl, Liz tells us that it all comes together when you pull it away from yourself (another life lesson).  Sure enough, once we looked at our paintings from afar, we found we were a bunch of Monet infused BOSSES.  No one was hesitant about signing their names on their paintings any more and I wasn’t worried about where I’d get a garbage bag to cover up mine while I was on the subway.  I would be able to hold up my painting on the L train and tell everyone: “See this???  This is mine!! I did this, homies!!  BOOOOOOOOOOM!!!” (Not that I would do that, but I like knowing I have that option).

Liz, our phenomenal teacher for the night.

Liz, our phenomenal teacher for the night

The finished product

The finished product

Proud mama over here!

Proud mama over here!

I’ll absolutely and most definitely be re-visiting the Painting Lounge.  It’s a great adventure if you want to learn how to let go of perfectionism and have fun.  The best part is, you really don’t need the booze.

**  Be sure to check out the Painting Lounge’s website and a big thank you to Liz and Kevin for the photos. **

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