Throwing the Sip and Paint Party of the Year is an intimidating feat at best, so my strategy is to think small, make plenty of mistakes, and then invite people over for real “next time.” I am certainly thankful that my forward thinking has saved me from potential disaster, but I am pretty proud of my fantastic fall ceramic “thing” I painted. I’m not sure what it is, but I did it and that’s all that matters—the painting, that is. The ceramic “thing” was already made. I paid $4.99 for it at Target and I picked up some kitchen sponges to act as “brushes” for a wonderful example of faux painting, which apparently dates back to ancient times—including cave art—according to Chuck Gridley, an expert in classic and modern faux painting styles. In any case, I knew that this work of art wouldn’t just “happen” without something to sip on, so I stumbled upon an actual can of wine at the grocery store and thought, “Why not? Life’s short. Drink wine from a can!” And this is where I potentially could have created a disastrous sip and paint party, if other people had been invited. Thank goodness they weren’t.
Potential Disaster Number 1: Hands down, wine choices matter. I really want my rosé wine to be the can that could, but it just can’t.
Once I hold the cool and refreshing beverage, I instantly dream of the perfect advertising campaign:
This is wine. You can too:
Because it’s noon.
Because you haven’t had lunch yet.
Because you can.
Wine in a can.
I eagerly pop the tab and take a whiff. I think I detect a delicate bouquet of roses. “Ooh! I’m being so bad!” I tell myself. Then, I take a large sip. It goes down like acid, so I take a few more sips to make sure. Yep. It tastes like wine in a box, which I once unloaded on a bunch of colleagues at a faculty meeting. I brought at least three boxes of wine to that meeting and only two boxes were emptied as we heatedly discussed how many personal days we needed because of snow. Two personal days were just not enough. Three boxes of wine were one too many for that discussion, so I brought the leftover box home and stored it in my basement. It stayed there until we moved to our new home in Washington in August of 2016. (The faculty meeting was in 2011 I believe.) Nate discovered that box and a whole conversation about whether or not to take the wine with us followed:
Nate: “Are we taking this with us?”
Me: “Oh, no way!”
Nate: “Should we give it to the movers?”
Me: “Why? What did they do to us?”
That box of wine was unceremoniously dumped down the drain, much like my can of wine. To be fair, the company that made my wine also puts it in a bottle, so I might try that version and see how it compares to the can.
Potential Disaster Number 2: The entire purpose of a sip and paint party is to socialize and learn something. I don’t think I’ve done either of those two things in my first attempt here. I just liked the idea of a sip and paint party, which I first found out about when I was still living in Ohio. My extremely talented niece Ruth Ann Cole, told me that she and her equally talented mother Alice Kennedy, hosted a sip and paint party once for some “very fun women.” Alice and Ruth are actual artists who teach art. In fact, Ruth and a partner formed Muralista Banditas, an organization that fights “negative space with positive art.” As part of her work, Ruth educates people and transforms communities. I can’t say that the party I’ve thrown for myself has “helped” my community in any way. However, these parties do have a purpose, according to an article titled, “The Truth About Paint and Sip Parties,” by Melissa Purtee, a high school visual art teacher. Mostly, the parties are for “art-related fun,” but they can result in “anxiety” if a model is presented and students think that they have to imitate that model “perfectly.” (The wine is supposed to help with the anxiety.) Purtee concludes her article by stating, “Let’s get rid of the teacher example in our art rooms and work to build students who are fearlessly creative.” In other words, she views these kinds of social and artistic opportunities as a way for students to truly express themselves and be creative, rather than trying to reproduce a teacher’s model.
So, in this manner, I believe my party isn’t a complete disaster because I truly did not look at any “models” before “faux painting” (sponging) my ceramic vase or whatever it is. Therefore, even after much less than a can of wine, I can say I have no anxiety about starting my project. I just take primary color paint tubes, squeeze the color out, and dab pieces of sponge into the paint. I then press the pieces “willy nilly” onto the ceramic vase-like object and let the paint dry.
However, there is an actual technique to applying colors with a sponge. This technique can be found on the blog Stencil Stories, which was created by Greg Swisher and Janna Makaeva, who are “professional decorative artists.” The trick is to use a natural sea sponge and to rotate the wrist with each dab to avoid “identical sponge texture imprints in your finish.” As you can see, I clearly have not followed that technique. Some of the paint is thicker in some areas than others and some of the color has just turned brown. There is nothing “natural” about the finished look here, but then again, no one opens a can of wine and says, “I’m going to create something natural-looking today.”
The finished piece will be displayed on a side table in our living room. This side table holds all of our holiday candy and various bowls and candles. If I’m tired of looking at the ceramic “thing,” I can always place some candy in front of it and light a candle. If anything it serves as an intriguing conversation piece. Here’s an example:
Alex: Mom! It looks great! What will you put in it?
Me: Perhaps a half a can . . . of beer.
Your Turn: Have you ever been to a sip and paint party? Do you consider yourself an artist? Are you ever afraid to create art or draw in front of others? What is your definition of an “artist?”