Siobhan Coleman reviews the official launch of a new Portsmouth creative business, Paint Chill Co, and discovers the joys of mixing art with alcohol.
At ten o’clock on Thursday evening, the official launch party for Paint Chill Co was winding down. I sat back in my chair, sipped my mojito and appreciated the masterpiece I had created. My canvas was awash with red, gold and a purplish colour that didn’t quite look the same as everyone else’s shade. As I surveyed the lazy brushstrokes, I hoped mine wasn’t the only one looking like an entry for the Cbeebies gallery.
Paint Chill Co is a fun, new business organising step-by-step art events in the Portsmouth area. From hen parties to birthday bashes, expert instructors are ready and armed with acrylic paints. Their aim is to create a relaxed atmosphere where people can express their creativity with a paintbrush in one hand and a drink in the other. A sort of Bob Ross meets Ab Fab if you will.
The combination of art and alcohol is far from a new practice. Perhaps it was Van Gogh and Picasso’s fondness for absinthe that made their work so expressive. Whether you’re drinking to suppress creative inhibitions or avoid stilted conversation, an evening with Paint Chill Co provides the perfect excuse for a cheeky drink or two. And non-drinkers need not fret, soft drinks are also available.
I should add at this point, art is not my forte. I’ve always found more success with words than I have with shapes or colours. While I don’t have much of a talent for painting, I do have a talent for drinking, and I’m not one to refuse a complimentary glass of bubbly. And so, with the promise of free alcohol on my mind, I attended the launch party.
Initially nervous about attending alone, I soon mingled with a little help from my friend Dutch courage. I befriended a couple called Steph and James. Steph’s mum had bought the tickets for her as a birthday present. Steph painted as a hobby and although she was modest, James assured me she was very good. James, like myself, seemed to express more interest in the drinking.
Our instructor for the evening was Kendal James, a local artist who hosts the popular Doodle Club at The Wave Maiden. The painting she taught us was a retro-inspired piece called Vino. Firstly, she had us add a background to the canvas, which I thought didn’t sound too tricky. We were advised to use plenty of water, which I did. I applied so much water the paint started dripping, leaving my canvas a streaky mess of purple and brown. People sitting nearby said they liked that my work was so abstract, which of course I pretended was intentional.
The teaching was impressive. People who hadn’t held a paintbrush since school were discovering artistic flairs they didn’t know they had. Kendal guided us through each step slowly, ensuring no one was left behind. Some painters decided to deviate from the rules slightly, others chose to paint something entirely different. As a novice, I thought it best to stick to the rules. There were also breaks which allowed us to get another drink while the paint dried. This gave us an opportunity to wander around and view other people’s work.
It was a delight to see so many variations of the same design. Some had really embraced the retro vibe, others had gone for a more classic approach. One lady, who had decided to do her own thing, used her purples and reds to create a beautiful floral design. Steph’s painting also looked lovely. Hers was a subtler interpretation. The brushstrokes were delicate, and the shading was impressive. My infantile attempt looked quite embarrassing when sat next to her painting.
As for my own piece, let’s just say it was so abstract it could only be understood by intellectuals. The deliberately childish brushstrokes evoked reminiscence, the theme of the evening I believe. In the end I was sad to leave, but at least I got to take my painting home with me. I even signed it. Using my non-dominant hand, I scrawled ‘Siobhan Coleman, Age 21’.
If anyone is searching for a new hobby, painting and drinking is one I would definitely recommend. Even if you don’t take the craft seriously, the act of adding paint to a canvas can be therapeutic for anyone. An evening with great drink and great company can be just the thing to help you relax after a tough week. And at the end of it all, you get to take a piece of art home with you.
Paint Chill Co welcome people of all abilities. A fun evening is guaranteed for all attendees, whether you’re hoping to refine your skill, reconnect with a childhood hobby, or simply enjoy an evening with friends. One word of advice however, don’t sit your drink too close to the water you mix your paint with. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to confuse the two.
All photos by William Thomson, with permission of Paint Chill Co. Find William Thomson on Facebook.