Rebecca Eckler summons her inner Picasso at Toronto’s hottest new hangout, the Paintlounge
Buddies and bachelorettes put brush to easel
Whether you are flying solo, dating or in a relationship, going to a paint class is an unbelievable experience. With these studios popping up all over T.O., I decided to check one out, though I have no painting skills. I was almost as nervous as going to the dentist because I’m a novice and don’t want to be judged!
The Paintlounge vibe is cool, what with the soothing music and paint splatters everywhere. Once I put the apron on, I feel very much like a professional painter, and I haven’t even started anything.
Located on College Street, this is the flagship location of the business. It has two additional spaces: one in Leslieville and one in Markham. Another option is the Paint Cabin in the east end, on Gerrard.
“As soon as you put paint on a canvas, it automatically makes you a professional,” says Kevin Chow, the operations manager, who suggests I paint something abstract. “That way, it has meaning for you. And if someone questions it or says they don’t like it, you can say, ‘I didn’t realize I was painting for anyone but for me. It’s a personal piece.’ ”
In fact, 80 per cent of their clients have no background in painting at and come in for freestyle sessions or workshops.
Because love is in the air this month, it should also be mentioned that the Paintlounge holds speed dating events and painting nights for couples. It even plays host to out-ofthe-box bachelorette parties.
“We do the bachelorette parties in the basement here, which is also a studio. We will hire a nude model to paint,” says Chow. “They have a blast. It’s really popular.” (It seems like a good time to mention they serve alcohol at paint party events or if you bring your own special occasion permit you can bring your own booze, and there is also coffee and snacks.)
During speed dating, the participants collaborate on paintings. The men move from seat to seat while discussing the painting thus far or adding to it themselves.
I pick out my colours for my abstract, and Chow explains some skills. He is very patient and shows me how to flicker paint onto my canvas with a small toothbrush.
I’m so into my painting at a certain point, I forget everything, totally concentrating on it. I love what I’m painting. It turns out many novices feel the same way I do.
“They may come in and say, ‘I’m painting this for my husband or for my mother. But when they’re finished, most of them are like, ‘I think I’m going to keep mine,’ ” says Chow. Most people stay for about three hours on average to perfect their masterpiece.
The price is completely reasonable for such a fun activity. You pay for your canvas: from $25 for a mini canvas to $55 for a long one. Your painting station, the brushes, and the paint is ALL included. (Pretty good for a date night, right?)
When I’m finished, I feel not only proud of myself but also gratified. I’m thrilled when Chow says he thinks it looks great. And yes, originally my painting was going to be for my valentine, but I’m going to have to think of something else. I like it too much.
Rebecca gets a grip on some painting skills with her first abstract piece