With lots of laughter and occasional sips of wine, a dozen women mirrored local artist Phil Krivenko as he painted a homage to Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Almond Blossoms.”
Krivenko added a dot about one-quarter of the way up from the bottom of his canvas and painted a line at that spot. He mixed white and yellow and added it to a tree limb. He used a wide brush to give a branch a greenish tint, then switched to a smaller one to adorn the branch with white flowers.
Whatever he did, the women followed through, each on her own canvas.
“It’s starting to really look like a painting,” Tara Gring of West Pittston exclaimed with delight.
As you might expect from the freehand work of 12 different people, each version of the “Almond Blossoms” looked a little different — and that was just fine.
“They’ll each have their own unique creation to take home,” said Krivenko who, with his wife, Kathy, earlier this month opened a studio called Art n’ Vino on North River Street in Plains Township.
The events they offer there aren’t exactly art lessons, Krivenko said. Rather, they are opportunities to relax and socialize, to enjoy the experience rather than try to create something perfect.
“We’re going to put these in our offices at work,” Gring said as she painted.
While her work is destined to brighten a wall at UGI, her friend Therese Kurilla of Larksville expects to display hers at the University of Scranton.
“I’m an accountant,” Kurilla said. “This is about as far as possible from what I do every day. I’m using the other side of my brain.”
Some of the participants on a recent Friday evening had come with friends, others alone. But painting together at small tables of three or four was a good icebreaker, Kurilla noted. “We’re all new friends now.”
Similar studios in other towns report most of the participants tend to be women, Krivenko said. “Guys come if it’s date night or if it’s a team-building activity for work.”
But everyone is welcome at the events, he said, and no artistic ability is required.
People are welcome to bring their own wine, or another beverage and snacks, and the Krivenkos will provide the canvas, easels, paints and brushes as well as background music.
Private parties can be arranged for birthdays, bachelorette groups and girls’ nights out, Krivenko said. He schedules open events during which people are welcome to watch and follow his steps as he re-creates some of his own work or re-creates a piece by one of the Old Masters, such as Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
Krivenko wants the fledgling artists to put their own stamps on their work, but he does come to the rescue if needed.
“Here, you’re getting a polka-dot pattern,” he said, showing a woman how to space her almond blossoms in a more scattered manner, so they would look more natural on the tree branch.
“Now put a brown dot in the center of the flowers, but not every one,” he said.
“You don’t have to be exact,” he added. “The less you think about something, sometimes, the better off you are.”
Admitting she was surprised at how nicely her painting was shaping up, Abby Boylan of Kingston said it would likely decorate a wall at home where guests would be able to admire it. “We have nothing in the spare bedroom,” she said.