Popping in to paint in St Albans

18:30 27 January 2014


Monique's finished artwork


“The key thing is to have fun and not take it too seriously,” boomed a voice over the loud French music as I stared at the blank canvas in front of me.

I’m a big fan of art and playing with paint but it had been a while since I’d put coloured bristles to a bare surface.

Keen to uphold a recent New Year’s Resolution to keep developing my skill set, I had found myself taking part in one of the latest crafty crazes to hit the St Albans district called Pop Up Painting.

Fresh from charming London, the franchise has a simple goal to take the fear out of painting and unleash your creativity.

At each event attendees are given a school of art to mimic and a painting to try and reproduce.

At the launch event last Thursday, my fellow painters and I were met with the challenge of recreating a classic 20s Vogue cover by Eduardo García Benito. Art-deco at its best, the image we were given to forge (or develop depending on your own prerogative) was full of geometric forms and initially wasn’t easy to fathom how to reproduce.

But under the watchful guidance of our assigned art teacher a whole horde of Garcia Benito-esque works of art popped up on each table within an hour.

Phyllissa Shelton, founder and managing director of the “movement” said: “It’s growing really fast. It’s an American idea – we’ve taken the best bit from it, adapted it, and given it a bit of ‘je ne sais quoi’.

The setting for the session, Brasserie Blanc in Verulam Road, certainly gave it a unique quality and helped you unleash your inner Picasso thanks to its sultry lighting and Parisian feel.

Phyllissa added that whether it was Van Gogh or Banksy guests were learning about, each artist was paired to a particular restaurant to construct the absolute ideal ambience – helped along last Thursday by wine and European nibbles.

As I slopped and sculpted the paint on my canvas I couldn’t help but think about France’s best known artists, who no doubt painted in similar surroundings to concoct their next creations, amidst chatter, music and liquor.

And that’s the beauty of these new classes; the welcoming, warm, and unpretentious environment inspires you and encourages you to let loose, and I found myself embellishing my painting with my own style ideas by the end of the session.

So even if art isn’t your bag and you think a Matisse is a type of dog or that Michelangelo is one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s well worth giving this new local event a go – you never know, you might just make a masterpiece.

The next Pop Up Painting session is at Brasserie Blanc on February 4. For more information visit http://popuppainting.com/event/paint-paris-brasserie


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