Going Steady in the Windy City: The art of wine and cheese
Cheese, wine and art — furnish me with Kmart throw pillows and colour me “basic”, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday night.
Evidence that he grew up with three little sisters, my date barely flinched when he walked into visiting artist Pandora Jones’ watercolour workshop in Drummond Cove to find he was the only man in a sea of young women. He was the first man to attend one of Jones’ workshops, which she let him know as soon as he walked through the door.
It made him a little nervous at first, but she reassured him and let him know she had spoken to a man before, and so expected she could handle his presence.
I thought Jones was local because I met her at a New Year’s Eve party in Geraldton.
She is Perth-based, but a best-friendship and a love of the ocean draw her regularly to the coastal Mid West. Her website says she is inspired by “the colour of the sea the moment the sun disappears behind the horizon”.
I know the world is full of little coastal cities and towns well-versed in this colour phenomenon.
But, reading the sentence, I struggle to think of anything other than a late-afternoon walk to the HMAS Sydney War Memorial.
Last Friday’s workshop was all about ocean animals. The artist asked us to bring a print-out of a creature we wanted to capture in watercolour.
Not uncharacteristically, my date and I skim-read the information section of the email and had to think on our feet and sketch from our phone screens.
I decided to paint an octopus, while my date landed on a moray eel. I poured myself a big glass of crisp rose and channelled my inner Year 12 art student. The first step was etching an outline with a lead pencil.
Friendly fish and cranky crustaceans started appearing on the well-decorated table in front of us. People who started the session complaining that they hadn’t picked up a pencil in a decade started coming out with very OK — even decent — illustrations. Wine lowers your inhibitions, and cheese is said by some to be an aphrodisiac, making Friday night’s conditions perfect for getting the creative juices flowing. We all finished our sketches and started hanging around the cheese board like flies.
Jones called us over to demonstrate some watercolour magic, stressing the importance of quality paper and good brush habits while making something very challenging look very easy on a piece of scrap paper.
“Watercolour takes patience,” she said, making me nervous.
I can’t sit through a five-minute meditation at the end of a yoga class without thinking about unanswered emails or possibly-mean things I said to someone five years ago.
She was referring to the way you need to let watercolours dry before applying a new layer or section of colour. It wasn’t at all frustrating because it provided the perfect painting break to top up our glasses of wine or gorge on dates, camembert, and fancy crackers.
The best thing about having a hobby as an adult is not having to be good at it. So few moments in life reward mediocrity, and I think the situations that do are beautiful. As long as the cheese is plentiful and the white wine crisp, I would get myself to a creative workshop, pronto.
My date refused to let me publish his glorious yellow spotted moray eel, so I guess I should respect his wishes. You’ll have to trust me that it was fridge door-worthy art.
I’ll be framing both our creations with pride and gusto.
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