Unleashing the inner artist.
The works displayed are rich in colours, expressions and styles.
A great platform for creativity and socialising.

Art jamming can turn socialising into an art form, writes Elena Koshy

The poet Rumi once proclaimed: “Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about.”

Evidently the significant amount of art jamming events that have cropped up in trendy outlets and cafes in Kuala Lumpur recently bears credence to his declaration.

Is there an artist within you waiting to be unleashed? Think you’re up to creating a masterpiece or do you just want to express yourself on a blank piece of canvas? No problem. There’s probably an art jamming event near you these days.

Art jamming basically calls for a group of people to come together to explore the joys of painting in a social setting, and where art and socialising converge into a truly fun experience. You meet people and learn the basic rudimentary skills of painting and you come off the experience a little inebriated (wine is sometimes included!). What’s more, you get to take home your own masterpiece. I’m now a proud owner of a depressed-looking panda on canvas (which I’m certain will earn me millions someday) from a recent event called Paint & Sip, organised by Artsy.sip at the Le Dreams Boutique Hotel in Penang.

GETTING INTO THE GROOVE

“Come on everyone... let’s have some fun over here!” hollers our enthusiastic painting instructor, James Lee, the sound of funky music reverberating in the background. It’s hard not to get caught in the moment as we move and sway to the music while attempting to paint a panda on canvas.

Everything is provided — paints, aprons, brushes, cups of water and paper plates that stand in for a palette. Two rows of blank canvasses have been set up on a long table, and Lee is raring to impart his knowledge on a motley group of people keen on spending their Saturday evening painting and having fun. With music in the background and a glass of wine within our reach — Paint & Sip encourages everyone to bring their own choice of beverage to the event — we’re ready to create our masterpieces.

BRINGING CANVAS TO LIFE

How hard is it to paint a panda? It’s not as easy as it seems, especially to those who are just being introduced to the joys of painting. Our affable instructor proceeds to teach us simple methods to sketch the panda on canvas using grids and slowly, a shape emerges on my canvas.

“It even looks like a panda!” I think with amazement as I stare at my sketch. My friends concur enthusiastically. It’s hard to go wrong with Lee’s instructions. He teaches us how to mix our paints, provides tips on using our brushes while encouraging us to explore our creativity by adding on personal touches to the canvas. He flits amongst the would-be artists like a social butterfly, giving us helpful hints coupled with boisterous encouragement as we begin to paint.

ART OF SOCIALISING

“Everybody.. cheers!” Lee raises his glass, and we all pause long enough to raise our respective glasses and cheer. “Move around everybody. Don’t just paint... Mingle, mingle, mingle!” he calls out and we do just that.

Perhaps it’s all that painting and sipping that has lowered our inhibitions. We happily put down our brushes occasionally, to walk around and get to know each other, peeking over our fellow participants’ shoulder to see what’s being created on their canvasses.

“Sip your drinks please... don’t sip the paints!” jokes Lee and we laugh. It feels like a party with a twist, and not an art class at all. This event has managed to turn a roomful of strangers into a group of friends, painting together and having fun.

FUN AND STRESS-FREE

“Art jamming is not a new concept. We just wanted to do something a little different and add a little more colour to the Penang arts and culture scene,” says 26-year-old Kerwyn Lee, a former engineer, who, together with his friend Aaron Hwang, also 26, formed Artsy.sip, the organiser behind the Paint & Sip event.

“Art should be for everyone. We’re here to create a fun, stress-free and happy environment to get your creative juices flowing. We’ll drink, dance and even sing with you, to help you get there!” he says, chuckling, before adding: “We offer an alternative way to meet people and have fun while giving you the opportunity to create art.”

FINAL TOUCHES

Our pieces are finally completed and we scramble to arrange them all together for display. We gasp, laugh and are duly amazed at the works that have been produced. It’s apparent that there are people here with a real flair for art. Grouped together, our paintings create a visual imagery of colours, expressions and styles.

It’s clear now why art jamming is getting popular. The art of painting in a social setting seems to be a mood lifter. We laugh, talk and take many photographs and exchange phone numbers. The night has come to a great end.

“It’s really not about the end product,” says Kerwyn. “Artsy.sip is here to remind you that it’s all about savouring the process. Most of the participants have no painting experience. There are really no rules. You don’t have to care about art critics or what people think.”

Smiling, he concludes enthusiastically: “Everyone is an artist. We are here to create an atmosphere for you to enjoy painting and creating while making new friends in the process.”

To find out more, visit 
www.artsysip.wordpress.com

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