Last Monday I went to a social painting class in the Carlton suburb. The theme was Naked Woman. Sounds interesting, right?
When I reached Dan O’Connell Hotel and saw none but a bunch of middle-aged males in a dingy bar, I had a half mind to go back. I felt so out of place, and the prospect of painting a naked woman with a bunch of guys, my dad’s age seemed unappealing. But the other voice in my head said ‘Really? Do you want to retrieve back to your comfort zone? Didn’t you fly 8 hours straight to live a fuller more rounded life?’
So I ordered a Moscato at the bar and waited. While the clock was getting closer to 7 PM, more and more ladies came into the bar. Finally, someone opened the back door and invited us in. I was greeted the sight of 40 ladies sitting in front of blank canvas with drinks on the side. This was going to turn into an enjoyable night.
I ordered a bowl of fries and another glass of Moscato from the bar before squeezing myself in between two ladies. I had Roschelle on my left side and a couple of friends on the other side. I decided to stick with Roschelle who got the class as a mother’s day gift. How thoughtful of her family!
When I first heard about Naked Woman painting, it did cross my mind that I would be painting a naked girl in front of me. It felt exciting and terrifying at the same thing. I have never painted a living being before, so that would have been an exciting experience, but at the same time, I didn’t want to paint anyone’s wee-wee like one of your french girls.
Interestingly, I was the only one who felt the uncomfortableness of painting a real naked woman. When I announced it on Twitter that I was going to Naked Woman painting class, I got a few DMs asking for clarification; someone even asked where and how it was supposed to be done. But the most fascinating question came from Fafa, who asked me whether I am going to paint while being naked. Gah, men and their minds!
Unfortunately (for them), it was just the theme of the night. There was a painting of Naked Woman, the original if I may, in front of the class which we could replicate as we wish. If you think replicating a drawing in front of you would be an idiot-proof task, think again my friend, think again. Remember that we were juggling between paintbrushes, wine glasses and paint smeared french fries. It was not that easy, but it was damn fun.
While painting and getting drunk simultaneously, I noticed something fascinating. Even though we had the original Naked Painting to replicate in front of the class, we all painted her differently. She was in different sizes, hairstyles, and colours. What’s more, is that I believe that we all painted the naked woman in the image of ourselves. Roschelle’s naked woman was small, perfectly proportioned and donning nicely blended colours. While the girl on my right side painted a much slender, long straight-haired naked woman with much toned down colours. There was another painting that looked almost abstract. I wondered what’s going on in the painter’s life or how different our world views must be. I would love to take a peek into her mind.
It took me some time to figure out what was wrong with the almost done painting of mine. Then I figured it out! I haven’t outlined her naked figure yet. Stupidly, I did it with a mama bear brush (that’s what the teacher called the big brush, we also have a teenager and a baby brush) and made it too thick for my liking.
The last brushstroke was putting my signature on it, and somehow I did right on her butt cheek which made it look like a tramp stamp. Ugh! Also, at the end of the session I realized that her side boob was too round, I wanted to repaint that part, but it felt equally weird to obsess over a boob on the canvas among 40 pairs of real ones. Guess I have to learn to appreciate it.
Finally, I took a step back to “admire” my version of Naked Woman. I would have painted her in more muted colours and with lesser curves. Did it mean I wish I was less curvy and colourful?! Never!
While waiting for our paintings to dry, Roschelle and I went back to the dingy bar. Now that I was much happier, feeling quite creative and positively drunk, the bar looked soulful. It reminded me of the kind of bar in Stars Hollow. Roschelle bought me a cup of coffee, and we chatted about life, families and dreams. We exchanged numbers and promised to meet again soon. I even handed out my blog “business card” to her. Something I had never done before to a stranger. It’s also the first time I truly made a friend here in Melbourne, outside of the office.
I am so f-ing glad I went to the Naked Woman painting class, so much so that I bought the bundle deal of four courses in the future. It means our new house is going to be decorated with my priceless paintings.
One last thing which is a bit unrelated to the naked woman above, I took the class last Monday after going to two photography classes on the day before. On Wednesday morning, I felt like my brain had frozen. I couldn’t analyze the numbers at my usual speed, even after two cups of coffee. I wondered whether it had something to do with me using my right brain excessively for the previous two days, and it needed some time to switch back. Have you ever experienced something similar? Or this is all just in my head?
As an adult, the Naked Woman was my third painting (the first one was the Autumn Tree and the second one was Miaw, a tribute to Miaw) and let me tell you, with the amount of fun I had, I have no idea why didn’t I do it more often.