A night of wine, cheese and art – it’s a cultured evening no matter which way you spin it! And with abstract art, the more wine the better, right?!
I’m always up for a challenge, and believe me when I say choosing to tackle an art workshop at Gallery Fifty One was definitely a daunting one for me. You’d think I could look at a blank canvas like I would a Word document, but no. I fear the brush and the thought of putting a stroke out of place makes me a little anxious.
Spoiler alert: two hours, a few blocks of cheese and a glass (or two) of red wine later, I was posting proud snaps of my piece on social media for all to see.
The gallery, run by contemporary impressionist artist Vicki Corser, has a bright, welcoming and intimate atmosphere that will have your eyes darting from wall to wall, admiring her extensive, vivid collection. That is, until you see the table set up with paint palettes, brushes, and canvases, with a large cheese and charcuterie platter and chilled wines as the centrepiece.
The workshops at Gallery Fifty One are designed for a maximum of four people to ensure a relaxed, conversational environment and one-on-one time with Vicki. It made for a perfect Style staff outing. I was a little bit worried that I was the only one who didn’t study art at school, but Vicki assured me that, when it comes to abstract art, no experience is actually plenty.
For many people, like myself, seeing a blank canvas with all the colours and brushes laid out can be overwhelming: “Where do I start? What do I want to create? Am I going to be embarrassed with my creation?” And Vicki knew that’s just what we were thinking as we stared at the workspace in front of us, sipping on our wine, carefully avoiding picking up any tools.
She says abstract painting has no right and wrong and even if it’s not turning out the way you planned, you’re best to not let it show – to someone else, your mistake will look intentionally beautiful. Vicki says it’s the best type of class for beginners and to calm the nerves she starts with a simple exercise… and we’re not talking about consuming the cheese and wine.
STEP 1: Layer your canvas
Vicki brings out a stack of magazines, art catalogues, patterned paper, timber cuts, ribbons and hessian. She asks us to pick the things that intrigue us and to start gluing them to our canvas as a base. I chose to rip, tear and neatly cut some text and images from a few of the catalogues to start layering my rectangle canvas. This step is to create depth in our work and provide areas of visual interest below the paint.
STEP 2: Paint, paint, paint!
By the time I’d glued down a base, the canvas looked more inviting than frightening. The thought of tackling painting at the start of the class made me anxious, but now I was like “Pass me my palette!”
Vicki says even the most hesitant participants are more relaxed come time to paint, because the first stage is designed to soothe the nerves and ease them into a creative zone. Genius!
We used acrylic paints during the workshop and were encouraged to add strokes of different lengths and widths, and in contrasting directions and colours. Yes, you’re encouraged to ditch the rules of “blue and green should never be seen”, because in the world of abstract art, using colours opposite each other on the colour wheel makes pieces really pop!
STEP 3: Add some bling
Once you love your work (because you WILL love it by the end), you can choose to add some gold or silver leafed foil. The choice was easy for me – yes, yes, yes! I chose to adorn my masterpiece with silver leaf and it just added another dimension of depth to my canvas.
By the end of the class, there was so much positive energy being thrown around, with everyone complimenting each other’s pieces, final photos being taken and HUGE proud grins. It’s a great idea for a girls’ night, a staff team-building session or an alternative to a regular group catch-up.