Happy Anniversary to Pinot’s Palette in my hometown, Alameda! This location recently celebrated their 1 year anniversary of bringing paint & sip experiences to the East Bay. I was their guest at their anniversary class last month and it was a blast!
Pinot’s Palette is actually a nation-wide chain that offers a paint & sip experience: basically, that means they serve delicious local beer & wine at the bar while teaching delightful painting classes. Owners Peri Poloni-Gabriel and Sean Gabriel opened up this location at South Shore Center in Alameda last September, introducing yet another fun activity I wish had been around back when I lived in Alameda. I tried getting my friends together last February to take a class for my birthday, but unfortunately the class was cancelled for a private party. So it’s been on my radar and I’ve been looking for a class of theirs to pique my interest ever since.
At the beginning of September, a friend treated me to their Project Pet class. Lorenza liked the concept of the class and joined me; we had a great time bringing individual portraits of our dogs to life (you can read about it on Pixel: Pug Princess’ site). So when Sean contacted me and invited me to join them for another paint & sip class, I jumped on the opportunity, and decided on attending their 1st anniversary class to paint “Starry Night Over the Gate”, a mashup painting of Van Gogh’s Starry Night with our most famous Bay Area icon the Golden Gate Bridge added.
This was my first class where everyone would be painting the same picture, so it would still be a new experience. I was wondering if the canvases were pre-stenciled or had some kind of paint-by-numbers thing going on. I was slightly terrified to see that they were totally blank! Of course, this required a glass of moscato STAT!
Unlike Project Pet, I went to this class alone. At first that made me a bit anxious, but soon the wine made us all more friendly and I traded compliments, techniques, and jokes with the folks around me. I was relieved that my assigned seat provided a good view of the instructor so I could follow his lead visually. There was a concern that the painting might all go to hell if I drank too much, so I spread out my few glasses of wine and drank plenty of water. Turns out I didn’t need to worry – the painting was very well broken out into different steps and the artists were very reassuring with the techniques they taught is.
The Impressionist Part
First the artist walked us through the background, hills, and water. This was all very loose and free form. Then we started the first batch of what would be MANY small dashes or dots. First we followed the lines of the hills, then added the swirls. We moved on to the main swirl in the sky – the distinctive feature of the original Starry Night painting. I’m honestly not totally happy with the swirl shape either, but it’s something I can live with. After the swirl came the stars and moon. I’m slightly embarrassed by my crappy crescent moon that you can see in my painting-in-progress shots. So far, every part of the painting was pretty impressionistic, so mistakes wouldn’t truly be mistakes, just unique variations.
We added more colors of dots, adding some depth to the swirls. We also filled in the shading of the hills, which I felt like I messed up. I started to worry that the whole painting was going to end up looking like something that should be taped to my dad’s fridge. Admittedly, this was my biggest fear when it came to the idea of paint & sip classes – spending a good chunk of money and ending up with a toddler painting. The confidence I had coming into this class really started to wane. I was getting worried the bridge would be more difficult than I could handle. If that part was wrong, the whole painting was a flop in my mind.
The Iconic Part
The bridge was actually a lot easier than I expected it to be. Mercifully, the artists took our canvases and stenciled on a basic outline of the bridge with chalk. It’s amazing how much a few well-placed chalk lines can help! My nail art dotting practice helped a lot when we used the brush handle to make the lights. I used dry brushing for the suspension cables and I really like how they came out. See, I do listen to Dominic sometimes when he tells me about his models! When we did the pet paintings, we were given three different sized brushes; we were only given the larger two for this painting. I’m glad I trusted my gut and asked for the smaller brush; it was much easier to work with for some of the smaller details.
The Final Result
Do you like it? It came out way better than I’d expected. I’m delighted when someone is surprised that I did all the painting myself. Don’t worry, I’m not delusional enough to think that this means I have any real talent as a painted. I’m not going to start buying canvasses and wearing berets! However, I do feel proud enough of the finished painting to frame and hang it by my grandmother’s paintings. Now she was a talented painter!
As I said before, Pinot’s Palette is a nation-wide chain, so I highly recommend you check it out and see if there’s one near you and take a paint & sip class with your friends. You do not have to be artistic to enjoy it – Lorenza said she felt really calm and relaxed while painting. I was worried that wanting a good end result would ruin the relaxing aspects of it for me; luckily that wasn’t the case. Pop icon Bob Ross famously said “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” If you take that attitude when attending your paint & sip class, you’ll definitely enjoy it and end up with a great experience, happy memory, and a focal piece for your wall you can be proud of because, hello, #imadethis.
Here’s a gallery of all my in-progress shots in order!