Uncommon Canvas Combines Painting With Booze

Photo by Paul Vergara

Commonwealth hosts an unlikely artistic experience. | Photo by Paul Vergara

I haven’t taken an art class since fourth grade, and for good reason: I’m terrible at it, and the teachers always make you feel like you’re the worst artist in the world because you used the wrong shade of blue while painting the sky.

But other than making me relive terrible memories, Uncommon Canvas is great. At Commonwealth’s once-a-week art gathering, patrons pay $30 for a three-hour paint session with artist Christina Ambubuyog, as well as a Jameson Irish Mule. The booze is worth the price of admission. And even someone with no art ability like me can feel like the next Picasso.

It’s a minimalist setup: Tables, barstools and a workstation with a small canvas and seven paints on a paper plate. For the next three hours, the task is to paint an eye.

Ambubuyog’s bio states that everyone is “a divine and extraordinary being. All of you, even the parts that you don’t think so.” She treats artists of all experience levels the same, which made the learning environment as rich as possible.

As we traced the outline of the eye, I couldn’t resist peeking at my neighbors’ paintings. I was a doodle drawer compared to everyone else. My eye was more circle than oval, and I was using about a gallon more of paint.

When I finally touched the canvas with paint, it became a mess of epic proportions. I added colors that weren’t even supposed to be added. Each time Ambubuyog passed by, she’d insist that my painting looked cool. It felt like a cruel joke.

I hadn’t yet used the biggest paintbrush, and I thought it would be a good idea to even out the colors. My attempt resulted in red paint dripping down the side of the canvas, making it look like the eye was crying blood. “The Bleeding Eye,” as we dubbed it, had been created, and it looks like something from the underworld.

My terrible art skills showed again, but at least the experience was fun. It was a relaxed environment with great music and a creative activity. Just make sure to enjoy the Jameson Irish Mule and you’ll do fine. Seriously.


6-9 p.m. Sundays, Commonwealth, 525 E. Fremont St., $30, 702-445-6400.

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