It was a frantic Friday night as I texted my mentor and friend, Shreya, whilst doing homework, trying to decide on where to meet the next day for lunch, as earlier planned. She texted back if I would like to go to the Art Class In The Park event that I had said I was attending on Facebook. Initially, I was skeptical thinking what was the point of me spending Ksh. 3000 to paint away in Karura Forest when I could do the same thing at home.
But after a little self-convincing and a short phone call with Cathy, the event organizer…flash forward to a sunny Saturday afternoon, I found myself at the Amani Gardens ready to paint away.
Now, Art Class In The Park is a series of events organised by Creative Moments, under the Kanfasi Events Ltd. Cathy Kanio and Yvonne Munge created the concept, after they heard a friend rave about a similar event in the U.S.A. They started off with a similar event in March 2015 at the Karura Forest on a Saturday afternoon with friends and family. The first guest artist they had was Patrick Mukabi, the guy behind those famed Java paintings. I cannot even tell you the countless times I have spent admiring his strong, purposeful brush strokes as I zone out of the conversation at the table.
After their first monthly event, they approached Raka Cheese to be their cheese sponsors and MIA Wines and Spirits International to supply the wine. And so, Art, Wine and Cheese in the Park was born! So now participants enjoy some cheese alongside a few glasses of wine as they paint. As Cathy gave me a brief background of how they started up, she particularly mentioned how it was “gratifying seeing how the participants enjoy themselves as they connect with their inner artists to produce their own master pieces.” Priceless!
I got to the Amani Gardens, Karura Forest, at 1:30pm sharp as the time was indicated. I went to the gazebo where a tent was set up. After a quick registration, I settled in, put on a bright yellow apron and waited for Shreya. Soon, Shreya and her friend, Sonya, plus Sonya’s work colleagues, joined me. We moved to the center table as where I was seated by the edge of the tent was sunny.
Each participant got their own piece of canvas placed on a miniature easel and a paint palette with a water cup and brushes. As we waited to start, I mingled with some of the participants. After the introductions, Shreya brought us a glass of white wine with gold flakes (Sorry! I was waaaay too excited to paint and forgot to check for the name). I needed a straw to drink the wine, and someone from the organisers’ team went over to the nearby River Cafe (you remember the River Cafe, don’t you?) and got me one.
The tables filled up as people strolled in. It was already becoming the social affair I’d thought it would be. I even met Chandni, a former high schoolmate, who is a phenomenal artist herself.
Soon, the artist – Adrian Nduma – introduced himself and we started off!
First, we had to sketch the landscape on the canvas. I had asked for my canvas to be taken off the easel so that I could easily access the entire area of the canvas. We were given a small piece of charcoal to sketch out the painting first. Then, we all got acrylic paint from tubes that the organiser’s team passed around the tent.
Soon, Adrian was instructing on how to paint. He encouraged us to be free with the brush strokes and encouraged us to paint outside the boundaries. I am a perfectionist, and when I paint, it must be as impeccable as I want it to be. So this was a new, enthralling experience for me.
Adrian coached us as we painted along. Every few minutes we would take a break to fill up on that vino and also to get some cheese. Every participant was given three coupons that allowed three glasses of wine per person and unlimited cheese. Cathy told us that the wine helps loosen one’s creativity as one loses all inhibitions that were previously obstructing creative freedom.
At around 5pm, we completed the paintings guided by Adrian, who so often would walk around the tent to look at everyone’s artwork. Once we were all satisfied with our work, we laid them down on the grass to see everyone’s artworks. It was so crazy to see how we all painted the same landscape and yet each painting was uniquely different.
It was a pleasurable afternoon that I really enjoyed meeting some new people while spending time with Shreya, who was an excellent assistant (And no! She did not pay me to say that). Plus, I got one more painting to hang up.
So far, Art, Wine and Cheese by Kanfasi has only offered painting classes but in 2016, they aim to offer pottery, sketching, making trinkets out of recycled materials, basket weaving alongside painting. Who knows, you may find me at the next class!
To find more information for the next Art Class In The Park, head on over to their Facebook page:
TL;DR – Art + Wine = Happy Jaini 😉
Of course, donuts fit somewhere in that equation.
Photos for this blog post were kindly provided by Shreya Karia, Sonya Syan, Ritesh Barot and Art and Wine by Kanfasi. Thank you all.
The photos were edited by Diva Shah.