Thursday, April 17, 2014
On March 4th I went to Avenue Gastrobar (13 S. Orange Ave. Orlando, FL) to see what Paint Nite was all about. For $45 patrons registered to paint a simplified version of Vincent Van Gogh's Irises. The event was Sold Out. About half of the bar was filled with small easels with blank canvases, brushes, along with plastic cups of water and plastic plates for palettes. Thirty to forty people showed up to "drink creatively." Each artist was given a green grade school smock.
Avenue Gastrobar offers a casual refined atmosphere that welcomes beer and cocktail drinkers, along with fussy eaters and foodies alike. Avenue is not quite a bar, and not quite a restaurant, but an innovative & modern pub hub to sip, grub and socialize. I had a sandwich and a Coke while I sketched.
I had contacted artist Megan MacGregor and since I wasn't using any of the art supplies, she was fine with letting me sit on the sidelines and sketch without the $45 cover. Megan graduated from New College of Florida with a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts. Apart from studying art, she also specialized in animal psychology, focusing on animal training. Her senior year of college she worked as a marine mammal intern at Dolphins Plus in Key Largo, Fl. Her senior thesis, "Fragmented Perspective," focused on redefining the stereotype of dolphins, came about as a result of her experience working there. After graduation, Megan was accepted into a six month marine mammal internship at The Seas in Epcot, Orlando, Fl, which has continued the inspiration of her paintings. She currently lives in Orlando, and is looking forward to taking her paintings out of the water and into new realms on land. I like how her work breaks one large image into a series of panels. She works in watercolor which of course I also find appealing. I kind of wish she had coached everyone to paint a dolphin portrait, but that would have required much more drawing skills from participants.
In the workshop, all the artists were first instructed to cover the entire canvas with a coat of yellow acrylic paint. Then large green brush strokes defined the leaves. Every one's painting was unique. The purple Irises were the last item added to all the paintings. Megan coached everyone from a small stage at the head of the room. She had a head mic which amplified her voice giving the impression of a fitness trainer rallying everyone to exercise their creative muscles. I imagine the amount of wine consumed might have resulted in some liberal abstractions. Participants liked joking with each other as they questioned their creations. Paint Nites are happening all over town with many different paintings to choose from. Though I was skeptical, I must admit that a Paint Nite would certainly be a fun date. Everyone is searching for adventurous distractions and this fits the bill.