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Shanthini Naidoo gets in touch with her inner great master, with a little help from a dry white

SOME say many post-impressionist artists were either mad, inebriated, or both while creating their masterpieces. So what better way to celebrate them than to copy their paintings, en masse, while drunk? The “social painting” concept has arrived in Johannesburg in the form of PaintNite, whose tagline is “Drink Creatively ”. The idea is to gather friends, drink wine, and, guided by a professional, copy paintings like Van Gogh’s Starry Night in two hours or so. Simple. The social painting events are usually held at a bar or in a bistro. Our hosts, Cocktails and Canvas, use a studio in a Sandton office park. On arrival we are handed a strong strawberry daiquiri. You can buy wine or bring your own, and a picnic if you want to. No time to eat though, there is a masterpiece to be created. For around R500, you rent an apron, a set of brushes, jars of water, a rag and an easel. There are acrylic paints to squeeze in sequence, and you get to take your canvas home. With the artistic scene set, a competitive edge takes hold. You want to knot your hair and pin it with a brush — channel some angst or madness. Our instructor is Jana O’Grady. The quintessential artist in splattered apron and dishevelled hair. She has even lived in Clarens . She has us done with the cypress tree and the mountains in 10 minutes. We mix paint on our table tops — blue and brown makes a darker brown.

slury night by Shanthini Naidoo

PISSED IMPRESSIONIST: A participant draws inspiration from a strawberry daiquiri

“There is lots of flow in the tree,” says O’Grady. “You must find your own stroke.” We paint with reckless abandon, and drink more wine. O’Grady inspects. “That’s great. Unique. You can’t make mistakes in art. If you ask a class of Grade 1 children if they can paint, they’ll all say ‘ye s ’. We adults lose our confidence along the way.” My clouds look like br0ntosaurus heads. “It will come together,” says O’Grady. The minutes pass quickly. Paint brushes get cleaned in wine. Wine gets drunk. Some wonder why they have blue paint on their teeth. “Happens in every class. Luckily this paint is non- toxic ,” says O’Grady. The group next door is copying
Mandela Bridge By Night, instructed by artist Nkosinathi Hlungwane, who stands on a box, discussing Braamfontein buildings. “It is great seeing really nervous people who have never picked up a paintbrush, then two hours later they’ve got something amazing,” says O’Grady. “You are so, so talented,” she tells a man who seems to have reproduced the painting entirely in hues of green. He spits wine, guffawing that he mixed his paints by accident. We are done — and impressed. We take a group photo for Facebook, try to stand on one leg and are told: “D o n’t smudge your art on your way home.”