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Creative in the Capital: Two art workshops everyone should try

By Hollie James on September 10, 2014

Ottawa is certainly brimming with a creative force, people and events alike. Some of our favourite things to do include the many local arts and music festivals, intimate vernissages, and quirky performances. I decidely to think of myself as being creative in my writing and especially in my ideas, but I’m surely more of a beginner when it comes to art, or music, or crafting, or anything of the like. The beginnings of my newly creative inspirations, coming from a coupon and a friend starting up her own new venture, couldn’t have come at a better time.

Paint Nite. No Experience Required.

10653659_10152488764074342_6686798349448825347_nMaking art accessible to people who don’t consider themselves artists or maybe even creative is what it’s all about. The Paint Nite people want you to have fun in a stress-free, non-judgemental environment, where you can be the one creating something from nothing. And this is why the concept is literally sweeping the globe, from Canada and the USA to places as far as Hong Kong and South Africa.

After spotting a Coupon I bought two instantly, knowing that my novel writing, collage making, drum playing boyfriend would most definitely be interested. You’re the one in control from the get-go, booking the night based on demo paintings along with the venue where it will be held – always a restaurant/pub to encourage a social, low key atmosphere.

Many of the upcoming spots were already taken, and so when I did come across a painting that inspired me, I immediately took the remaining availability at Rosie’s Southern Kitchen and Raw Bar in the Glebe.

After arriving, we sat down in front of our canvases, ordered our drinks, listened to a few brief instructions, and began the process, with step by step guidance from our instructor. We had a brilliant time – just sipping our beverages, while we socialized and painted the next 2 hours away. To prove our recommendation, we even bought our friends in Miami a spot for a class down there. My final result is a dark and abstract ultra cool feather (shown above) and is now the very first of my own creations hanging in the living room.

Silk Screening at The Studio Cafe with Peach Berserk’s Kingi Carpenter

There are so many reasons as to why I was drawn to this class in particular.

1. I want to be Andy Warhol. He was an early adopter of the silk screen printmaking process as a technique for making paintings.

2. I wanted to support my friend and owner of The Studio, Crystal Beshara.

3. The instructor was Kingi Carpenter of Peach Berserk – a completely cool boutique in Toronto.

10383647_10152488737129342_4582488880978629796_nThe very first thing I learned is that silk screening is not easy. Like, at all. You start by using a frame, stretching mesh as tightly as possible, and securing it with staples (via staple gun). You then coat your screen thinly and evenly with emulsion. Once it’s dry (hair dryers ain’t just for hair), your design is transferred onto the emulsion.

The screen is then exposed to ultraviolet light, and like magic, the emulsion has changed where the light has touched it, and the result is a stencil, ready to be painted onto whatever you desire. I never ever received an A+ in art growing up, and my finished product wasn’t winning any awards here either, but it’s forever imprinted on my new pyjama style t-shirt, and most importantly, it’s mine.

The Studio Cafe (1089 Somerset W.)is a lovely space in Hintonburg that has multiple uses: workshop room for other artist’s, classes like silk-screening (and there are tons of really neat classes – check the upcoming one’s here), a unique venue for events, like these ones, and a cafe with delicious cappuccino’s and chocolate croissant’s (among other goodies – that’s just what I recommend).

It’s not like I’m the next Picasso or Andy Warhol by any means (not just yet anyway), but I found a joy in being creative that I don’t think I’ve felt since I was a kid. These workshops were perfect for anyone, whether it be a beginner or a professional. They simply both just let you be your own artist. As I look forward to more creative pursuits in Ottawa, and maybe even more challenging artistic or artisanal endeavors, I can only hope that they offer a similar experience and most importantly, a passionate love for art.