Myself and Emily popped up at PopUp Painting.  This was one of a number of sessions which are held at various cafes and restaurants throughout the city.

Our evening was held in the lower restaurant of Red Peppers at the Mailbox; so a suitably rustic ambience was already in place for our artistic awakening.

Our remit was to replicate which is arguably one of Van Gogh’s most famous works - The Starry Night.  this may seem like a daunting task, but luckily we had professional artists Rob and Sue on hand to guide us through step by step. You could go off-piste if you wanted, however nobody went rogue and painted a spaceship flown by a unicorn or anything.

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The Starry Night painting depicts the view from Van Gogh’s asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise.  Van Gogh checked himself into the asylum, after cutting off his ear with a razor.

A group of us had assembled and sat eagerly in front of our canvases, perhaps a little curious about each other’s skill levels - I was definitely sizing up my fellow artistes.  But I think it’s fair to say that we were mostly amateurs, trying our hand at something new.

Van Gogh painted his picture in oils, but we worked in acrylics – we had three brushes – large, medium and yup, you guessed it - small in which to create our pièce de résistance.  Luckily, we were also supplied with a canvas, oh and an apron in case we splashed ourselves (Emily).

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[Emily]: There was no splashing Paul. My blob of red paint gently cradled my work fob for a time. Sue popped up to my rescue with baby wipes to hand and I was able to Gogh ahead with more strokes of genius. Back to you Paul…

Hmmm... Rob talked us through the painting, giving great advice on mixing, and painting techniques – I really did learn quite a lot which I can take forward.  Rob and Sue came around during the 2-hour session to give advice / suggestions and big up our works throughout.  Relaxing music played in the background, including lots of tunes with references to stars, I remember Coldplay’s ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ most vividly.  I don’t remember ‘Lucky Star’ by Madonna – an idea for your playlist Rob/Sue?

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I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, it was my favourite experience of the year thus far... but it was marred slightly as I was feeling ill throughout (I reckon it was Australian flu - the Galaaaar) - but this perhaps added to the experience, as I felt like a tortured artist, suffering for my work.  I knew I was not at my best when I cleaned my brush in my drinking water.

So here it is..

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I’m pleasantly surprised by my finished piece, I think my painting has gained as much notoriety on Facebook as Van Gogh did during his lifetime, the poor fella.

I was especially pleased when my 7-year-old spotted it, ‘ooh Van Gogh’ she said, ‘only sold one painting in his lifetime’, ‘shot off his ear’! Well 2/3 ain’t bad.

[Emily]: Like Paul, I was also pleased and somewhat surprised with my final piece. I put a before and after on my Instagram and flocks of fans have asked for personal commissions – could this be a life turning point? My dutiful boyfriend said ‘I’d hang that in my bathroom’…. we haven’t quite made the hallway, but let’s see where we’re at after a few more PopUp painting sessions.

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Paul, your closing comments please…

I will 100% be returning for another art session, I found the whole think so gosh darn relaxing, and that was sans alcohol.  There are a number of sessions throughout the year including replicating works by Monet, Banksy and more Van Gogh. Venues include Red Peppers, Utopia, The Canal House, The Garden House and The Rose Villa Tavern.

I’ve put out a call on Facebook to recruit a posse for the next outing and have already garnered much interest – so book up now before we take all the spots!

Any offers for my work please call 555 MASTERPIECE

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