More and more of us are attending the so-called “sip and paint” classes, where you learn to paint while enjoying a glass (or two). But you can hone your skills, while under the influence of alcohol?
It is Thursday night and instead of catching up with friends or cooking at home, my eyes are firmly focused on an image of Banksy Girl with Balloon wall, as I nervously wait to try and replicate the famous work of art.
“The first thing I have to say is that this is not a serious problem in the art class,” announced our teacher, Gareth Shelton, of 18 of us eagerly play with our brushes. He gives us step-by-step instructions on what brush strokes to try and shades of acrylics to mix.
There is a collective sigh of relief, especially from this newbie who has not picked up a brush since leaving school.
But I don’t have to be too anxious; it is quite clear that this painting session is not the standard of the art class.
To begin with, instead of being locked up in a quiet classroom, we are on the top floor of a pub in the centre of London, where a playlist of indie music from the likes of Oasis and The Killers to claim.
And while I’m grabbing a paint brush in my right hand, my left hand is wrapped around a large glass of sauvignon blanc. While the brush can help me to unlock my creative genius, the wine is helping to calm my nerves.
During the last decade, “sip and paint” classes have taken off throughout the world, and can now be found in New York, Dubai, London and Hong Kong.
Experts says that it has largely been driven by the millennial consumer, who increasingly prefer to spend their money on experiences, such as parties and concerts instead of material items.
In a typical session, an artist will teach you how to paint or draw a particular work of art while enjoying a few drinks and a chat. The alcohol is sometimes included in the ticket price.
“We wanted to get rid of the congestion of the class art of the image”, explains Mr. Shelton, who set up Pop-up of the Painting with his mother in London of 2013, after attending a similar session in the united states.
“When people are going for drinks after work, hungry for something different to do. The wine makes it more interesting and makes people less anxious.”
The company has expanded to Birmingham and Manchester, and executed 30-40 events a month. Classes cost from £25 to 35 years for a two-and-a-half hours of the session, and Mr. Shelton says that sales have increased by 20% in the last year. It plans to open in the university of Sheffield and Liverpool the next year.
ArtnSips has been running painting and nude drawing classes in Copenhagen since last year.
The founder of Naama Bierlich says drinking, while the drawing can help people to explore their creative side, “especially those who do not consider themselves to be artistic”.
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But is this just for fun, or you can learn something, too?
“Definitely, you can learn. A glass of champagne or a cocktail are a great way to relax and be less critical of yourself.” No one drinks too much at events, adds Ms Bierlich.
“Normally, the guests have one or two drinks during the event because they are so committed. That diverts the attention of a nearby bar.”
Without a doubt, the biggest “sip and paint” the signature is Paint Nite. Since its launch in 2012 it has held events in the united states and Canada, and attracted more than four million customers.
With an income of $55m (£41m) in 2016 – up dramatically from 2012, it was ranked as the second fastest growing company in the united states last year by the Inc. Of the magazine.
The firm specialises in the painting of the fun”, but co-founder Dan Hermann says people are “generally very surprised and proud of what you believe”.
He is also open about the company is the audience; mostly 25-to 50-something women who represent around 85% of the clients.
“We do target that demographic, but men are totally welcome and we would like to attract more.”
The Evening Standard, Ben Olsen believes that the drink and draw market is going to continue growing as young people seek alternative and more peculiar in the night in the pub.
“Artsy activities, which now come in a variety of genre-bending forms – graffiti schools, in the development of the classes and floristry – all to provide a positive platform to channel the creative energies, expanding the field to be daters and also just to get people to leave their homes.”
However, there are challenges. On the one hand, competition is mounting, especially in the united states, where hundreds of companies who now run the events.
Drink and draw nights may not work in every place. Mr Shelton says that when they tried to open in Brighton struggled to attract interest.
He blames it on the fact that many of the residents of the city of London and prefer to take classes in the evening in the capital.
“In addition, I believe that a greater proportion of Brighton activities crafty anyway, and people move there, because of that culture. Therefore, they were not such a unique offering.”
In the Chelsea as we wrap up and assess each one of the creations of others, I talk to Tejal Kanjee, 26-year-old, whose version of the mural by Banksy is much better than mine.
She says she had a good time, and that this is his third class in two weeks. “I thought it would be fun and something different to do.
“I had not painted since I was in school, but it made me more confident,” she says, her nearly finished Jack Daniels with coca-cola standing next to his canvas.
After the class I visit another bar where my “Banksy” has received praise from a number of well-oiled punters. But the next day I am afraid that the alcohol might have clouded your judgment, and decide my work of art is better left under the stairs, above my fireplace.