Walking into the all-white room at the Corcoran Gallery and faced with 25 blank white canvases on easels, I got nervous.
Michael Clements spent four years bringing his vision of a social event centered around creativity through painting to fruition. And, Wednesday night's launch of ArtJamz was sold out.
Near the door, Clements stood smiling with blue paint on his hand.
“I’ve never painted before in my life,” I said worriedly.
“Neither have I,” my friend Tara Palmeri added.
“Start with getting a glass of wine,” Clements said smiling, pointing at the bar. “Then you should find a canvas that feels right.”
I guzzled an excellent Sauvignon Blanc and ate some of the hors d’oeurves from the table next to the paint.
Walking around the room with my wine, the only difference I could tell among the blank canvases – which other guests hadn’t chosen yet -- was some were clipped horizontally and others vertically.
So, reverting to my practical, left-brain thinking, I chose a canvas far enough away from the DJ to talk with my friend Tara easily, and close enough to the bar for quick refills.
Instead of painting, I avoided my canvas by chatting with the other guests who I already knew and meeting new people. The atmosphere was relaxed, jovial and light-hearted.
Clements saw me tweeting on my Blackberry and staged an intervention. “Go, put that down. Look, the hardest part of painting is the first stroke. You just need to start.”
“I can’t Michael...I can’t do it," I pleaded as if he was telling me to perform open heart surgery.
"I’m not artistic," I begged, to no avial.
“I need inspiration!” I said, trying to appeal to the artist on his own level. Clements just smiled knowingly, like Buddha.
Suddenly, Tara came up behind us chirping, “HEY! I got our sticks. Let’s go.”
“Paint brushes,” I replied laughed, pointing at the bunch of brushes in her hand.
“I’ve already started, look!” Tara said pointing to her formerly all-white canvas, now bright pink fuchsia, like a tutu.
“Michael said to get started, you just have to pick your favorite color and put it on!” she said cheerfully, having broken through her fear.
Fine, I thought, I don’t have an inspiration, but I can pick a color. So I went to the paint table and squirted a wad of blue acrylic paint onto a small plate and added white paint and mixed them together until I made a pretty cornflower blue color.
Suddenly, I knew what I wanted to paint. A peaceful scene of pale blue sky and ocean, a view that I knew would sooth me hanging at home.
Back at my canvas, I paused, unsure where to start. “Don’t worry,” Clements said, “remember whatever you do, you can always paint over it.”
Tara looked up from her now black and hot pink canvas, “that’s a metaphor for life actually,” she mused.
I swiped the first line of cornflower pale blue across the top of the canvas and felt a huge sense of relief and excitement.
After three glasses of wine, several new friends’ encouragement, one re-do scrape of my canvas, paint covered arms and shirt, I become -- in just four hours --an artist.
Stepping back, I smiled broadly at the formerly blank canvas which now had my vision of a peaceful sky and beach landscape.
As I leaned in to add more white to the sky, Clements came up behind me. “Remember the hardest part about painting is knowing when to stop.”
“I thought you said the hardest part about painting was the first brush stroke?”
“Nah, I just said that to help you get started,” he said laughing.
“Really, Michael, this has been the most fun night of the summer,” I told him while he wiped down the brushes, smiling.
“This is just so much better than being in crowded parties in passing, making small talk and feeling empty at the end fo the night.”
Tara was dancing to the DJ near her completed painting which Clements entitled “Hot Mess.”
“I’m living my life’s dream tonight," Clement said, his eyes twinkled with joy.
"It took me four years to make this happen, and seeing everyone here painting such different visions and having such a good time, well, it just amazing it’s all finally happening.”
Wednesday, June 23, Thursday, June 24, Friday, June 25 and Saturday, June 26, 2010 from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. each night at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
The cost is $60 which includes brushes, paints, drinks, and food plus a canvas you get to keep.
Click to register for ArtJamz.
ArtJamz! Unleash your inner artist with the newest, hottest, and most fun way to spend an evening with good friends and potential new ones.
We supply the materials, you supply the vision! ArtJamz is a GenkiMedia.