This is not the most practical activity to do on your travels, but if you want a keepsake that you are truly invested in then give Cork & Canvas a shot.
It’s a fun night out that is a little different if you are not the artsy type.
It was a big step out of my own comfort zone and Anh was confident that she would have the edge on me in this activity.
We will share the outcome at the end of the post and you can be the judge!!
In this post:
What is Cork and Canvas?
It is a small art studio in South Melbourne where you are walked through the process of creating your own painting.
The atmosphere is very relaxed, informal… and very girly.
The crowd is 90% female, which is not at all surprising considering you are there to paint.
The only guys there were on couple dates – so for the single fellas, if you are after a target rich environment this is it!!
As per the name, you are also encouraged to bring some food and drinks along with you.
Anh and I downed a couple of bottles of red wine while painting in an attempt to find some artistic flair.
Pro tip: Space is limited, and pizza is easy to move around in a box. But, the nearby pizza places are ordinary. Instead, order delivery from Sopranos in Southbank.
The Creative Process
Each session is dedicated to re-creating a specific work of art. So you can book your session based on which painting you like the most.
The leader will walk you through some basic techniques required for each stage. You then have 15-30 minutes to go ahead and complete that stage.
The leader is happy to answer questions and give tips throughout. But they also spend a lot of time creating their own unique masterpiece that serves as a useful reference point.
Our leader changed the color scheme completely, and added in additional features. I found this helpful and encouraged me to move away from the original we were re-creating.
This is a very poor recollection of the stages we went through:
- Tracing the outline of your painting
- Adding your background colors
- Painting the main subject
- Adding lighting and shadows
At the end of the session there was plenty of free time to complete our paintings and we never felt rushed.
This was a relief as I felt very behind early on and had more than a few moments with sweat on my brow. WTF was I doing here???
Wanting to keep a low profile I just bugged Anh the whole time about what to do next.
But my confidence grew as we got further into the session and I was actually quite happy with the end result.
My Tips for Novice Painters
1. Be adventurous with your colors
I felt my painting only became interesting when I went for brighter colors. It was only when I was finished and I compared my effort with others that I realized how conservative I had actually been.
This is not a competition, so don’t hold back!
Some of the best efforts in the class were bright pink, and glowing green. A long way from the dark shades of blue in the original.
2. Stop and pay attention when the teacher talks!
They will help give you clarity every step of the way.
I only fell behind because I wasn’t listening at the start. As a result, I made some early mistakes – this probably didn’t make that much of a difference – but it did make me uncomfortable early.
But feel free to muck around, its all meant to be fun at the end of the day.
3. Techniques, techniques, techniques…
Note: this was inserted as a Masterchef joke that 99% of readers will not get.
You won’t become an artistic wizard, but you will learn a few techniques that may give you a new appreciation for art next time you visit a famous gallery that usually goes way over your head..
It may even enable you to wow the layman while wandering around (if you are a wannabe pretentious douchebag, or just trying to impress a tinder date – or both).
“Yeesssss, the use of shadows here really creates a mystique in the personality of the subject. Bravo!”
Should You do this While Traveling?
The only argument against is that you are then stuck with a pretty decent sized painting to lug around.
But, no matter where you live in the world you can post it home by regular mail and it shouldn’t cost too much.
Send it to your mother (and/or father). She/he misses you and they will love it!!
Where to Find Cork and Canvas
There are two locations in Melbourne, and two in Sydney.
Our session was at 206 Clarendon St in South Melbourne – a convenient five minute walk from my then Melbourne home.
You can book your sessions via their website.
Tickets are sold out weeks in advance so if you have your heart set on a particular painting get in early.
Pro tip: If you want a session that is sold out then join the waitlist. We did this and got in a few days ahead. Three subsequent emails went out offering spots so it is likely you can get in if its a small group.
One of my favorite things about my girlfriend Anh is that she will try pretty much anything. This often means we are doing things of my choosing.
This was an attempt to surprise her with something that she would like.
Definitely not my cup of tea, but I went in with an open mind and had fun.
We are going to try again for the Paint your Pet session, and possibly Mt Fuji. The winner will forever be on our wall, the other one on my Mums…
So, who won? My guess is the teacher (on the right of the photo).
Vote in the comments below!