Aisling Kearney Burke, Laura Dunne and Kristina Barry during the art evening in Langton's PICTURE: PAT MOORE
The idea behind ‘Paintclub’ — a new, fun, social evening in Kilkenny — is simple: You buy a ticket, you come along with or without a friend, have a drink, paint a work of art, and you’re finished by 10pm.
Everything you need is provided, along with some expert instruction, if like me, you wouldn’t know where to begin.
Paintclub originated in the States, and since it has arrived on these shores, it has already proven a huge hit in Galway. Now, it’s up and running in Kilkenny, and so I decided to go along and — presumably — discover the great, latent talent within.
The last time I painted anything other than a wall was in my first year of school. As I make my way to Langton’s on Thursday evening, I’m hoping Paintclub is not going to be anything like that.
Thankfully, it’s not, and the fact that this pop-up art studio is in the warm and plush confines of Harry’s Bar immediately establishes its superiority over the creaking prefab of those adolescent art classes. Also, there’s a bar this time.
As I arrive, I’m offered a table which already has paint, brushes, an easel and a blank canvas perched and waiting for me.
“The first rule of paintclub,” begins our instructor Laura Dunne, “is please talk about paintclub.”
So far, so good.
“The second rule of paintclub is keep your drinks and water jars on separate sides of the table.”
This one makes sense, and it comes from experience. Laura assures us the unthinkable happens with unsurprising regularity.
We start off with a blank canvas, one large and one small paintbrush, a sponge, a mixing knife, and a few colours which we are helpfully instructed to mix to produce different hues at various stages throughout the evening.
Our subject is a nice landscape piece – a pale field of poppies with a treeline and sloping hills in the background, and, a blue sky. My problem would have been where to start, and apparently, it’s from the top down.
Artist Aisling Kearney Burke, who is helping establish the new paintclub, is also present, and she offers some instructions and helps me with my clouds, which have become a bit blocky.
My hills/mountains – a mix of white, blue and green – are considerably more jagged than the gentle undulations of the master painting. As was diplomatically suggested, they required some ‘de-Alping’.
Apparently, some people are chronic over-blenders, others are under-blenders. My sin is the former. My pale yellow field is quickly turning into a sandy beach before my eyes (I got loose with too much Yellow Ochre). My ‘happy little tree’ has quickly matured into an impenetrable deciduous monster, and even with careful pruning, it still dominates the painting.
The class takes a break twice during the evening, which goes on for about two and a half hours. The breaks are a chance to chat and make new friends, secretly inspect other people’s paintings, go to the bar for a drink or just stretch the legs.
Aisling confides that we are a slightly ‘chatty’ group, for which I can’t help but feel slightly responsible. It may also explain why my painting is progressing at a slightly slower rate than others, so I resolve to keep quiet and focus on my painting.
My painting is now half done – clouds and sky and shrubs. Aisling helps me get the light on my tree looking a little more natural, and soon, our evening’s work is done. Best of all, I get to bring my masterpiece home.
Paintclub is a relaxing and enjoyable social evening, offering something creative and a bit different. No experience is necessary, and for the ticket price of €30, everything is provided – from easel to canvas to paints, brushes to aprons.
The next Kilkenny Paintclub is on October 12, and the subject matter is ‘Shooting Stars’. For more, see www.paintclub.ie or email firstname.lastname@example.org.