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Live painting, big bananas, a missing apron & Turkish food at 2 AM

Disclaimer:  Please note that many of these photos were taken in dark settings with artificial light.  Life isn’t perfect and lighting isn’t always, either.  I’m thankful to my husband and friends who helped document the evening.  

Late last month I did my first live painting competition.   This photo of me about sums it all up.  When people would ask me years ago “What’s Next?” - I had no idea that this would be my life.  

Whew!  That was a whirlwind of cool music, awesome live models, and working super spontaneously.  I first heard about Kiss My Art last year when my friend Natalie Webb mentioned it to me.  She was going to compete and urged me to do it, too.  Me?  Figure drawing, a live audience, and competition?  Um, no way.  I paint flowers and sunshine, not people.  I’m ok with an audience.  But competition?  Hmmmm.  I was the kid on the swim team who would rather swim by herself than with other people.  I would say to myself during a race, “I really don’t know why I’m here, I don’t care if I win.”  Yes, really.  

Anyway, I went along and watched her compete a few months ago.  A DJ played, models came out in over-the-top costumes.  Artists had their own easels and brushes and painted on the canvases provided.  The audience circled around and checked out the paintings.  This was wacky, but cool.  And then... she won, woah, so cool!  

But I still wasn’t convinced.  It would mean that I had to risk painting figures in front of people.  Yikes.  Not my strongest skill.  But hey... no risk, no reward, huh?  So I signed up at the last minute, got accepted and got going on my training schedule.  Training schedule?  Yes, picture those montage scenes in the movies.  Late nights in the studio with magazine images pasted to a large canvas that doubled as my easel.  

I watched the Alexander McQueen movie and did screenshots of his crazy outfits so that I could recreate them.  I tore out pages from magazines and did 30 minute timed sessions at home.  I posted them on my Instagram feed and got positive response.  OK, I can do this, I can do this... I would tell myself.  

 

Anything I could use for practice - sneaking a sketch of someone at the coffee shop, my daughter hanging out at home, fabulous fashion spreads, game on!  I put loud music on my Spotify list to remind me of the vibe of the club and pressed play.  Practice, practice, practice.  

The night before I competed, I did one more practice.  This time, my daughter joined in.  She just danced and swayed to the music and had fun as she painted on a large canvas in my home studio.  That was the point, right?

(another fuzzy pic, sorry!)

So... big day.  I get my materials together.  I also was showing one of my Super Bloom pieces in a show on the same night with the ArtHouse Project and had to deliver it across town to Dalston.  All of the sudden my husband had to go to Urgent Care (the ER is what we say in the US).  Oh no.  It was scary, he was having vision problems and it wasn’t worth waiting to see if it cleared up.  All of the sudden, my anxiety level started to rise.  I did a run back and forth to Dalston with my daughter in tow to deliver my piece, came back home & dropped her off for a sleepover, fed the animals, walked the dog, and caught an Uber to the Kiss My Art event.    

Mind you, I don’t talk too much about my anxiety, but I was feeling it big time.  Thank goodness for meditation music and my noise canceling headphones.  I worked on getting calmed down before I got to the show.  In the meantime, I was still waiting to hear from my husband and feeling guilty that I wasn’t by his side at the hospital.

At the venue, I had a chance to settle in and get into the feel for the place.  A cool DJ was on the decks and I loved this new setting that felt a bit more spacious than the last venue where Kiss My Art was.  My hubby messaged me and said he was OK.  Crises averted, he was on his way.  A few friends showed up to say hello which also helped ease my nerves.

I wasn’t nervous, more curious how I would do.  Since I wasn’t sure what the models would be wearing or what I would be painting exactly, I had to just relax into the evening.  First round - some serious talent.  Break time!  I got set up with my stash of materials - acrylic paint, a range of brushes, glass palette, and searched for my artist apron - not there.  I made do with my paper towels and baby wipes as I tend to be a bit messy when I paint.  

Then the models came out.  Yellow soft helmets, red fishnets, and big blow up bananas.  Oh Fuck.  I don’t use yellow and red together.  As my mom says, it’s like scrambled eggs and ketchup.  

 

But I did it.  I painted, created a composition, and had to move quickly.  The models were awesome and held their poses for 30 minutes, woo!  Time was ticking away and the audience was circling around all of us, checking us out as we went.  

 

I couldn’t get both models on my canvas.  I painted one model then did the second model sideways.   

Halfway through, I changed my mind and covered that part over.  I added color to the background, created a little dialogue between the two, and called it finished just as the clock was winding down.    

After our round of painting, the audience voted on its favorite.  I didn’t proceed to the next round, but wasn’t surprised.  There was some serious talent there.  The competition really helped me grow - I want to do more figurative work in the future and there’s so much to learn. 

This photo about sums up the evening (and my life lately) - me trying new things, forging ahead into the unknown and him calmly documenting me.

After the show, my hubby and I packed it all up and head over to Dalston in east London.  Rock star seating on the top of the double decker bus, baby!  I call this a party bus.  

After we hopped off the bus, we popped into the Art House Project London event at Viva Dalston which was still going strong.  I picked up my pieces that hadn’t sold and said hello to some of my friends.  Then we headed to the Turkish diner across the street, open until 5 AM.  I felt like I was twenty something again.  Except I’m not.  

My hubby was so happy, I was too.  We opted for an Uber home and crawled into bed around 2 AM.  I haven’t been out that late for a long time, it was so much fun.   

As for the denim apron, it was outside of our house when we got home.  In my rush to leave the house, it had fallen out of my Ikea bag of art supplies.  It must have had a run in with a vehicle or a London fox wanted a snack.  There was chunk taken away on the bottom and the string was ripped off of one side. It has since been repaired, but still has memories of that wild evening that will remind me to forge ahead into the unknown with my art.

Anyway, I have other fun events planned soon.  Things that involve meeting collectors in person, and probably not any blow up bananas.  But that would be OK, too - right?!  

XO,

M.E.  

 

 


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