By Malvika Rangarajan
The grey and white interiors of The Daily Bar & Kitchen in Bandra gained a burst of colours on a Saturday afternoon as Snehal Patil, the founder of Bombay Drawing Room, arranged easels, aprons and paints for an impasto knife painting party.
Every weekend, art enthusiasts from across the city attend painting parties at popular restaurants hosted by Bombay Drawing Room to unwind after a busy week and reunite with their love for paint. With the goal of taking a break from perfectionism, the parties host participants from all walks of life, both experienced and amateurs.
“Art is an equaliser. We’ve had CEOs, pilots, doctors, homemakers and students. We’ve had children and 75-year-old couples that come and paint together. It ensures that the activity does not cater to only one kind of community. The moment you paint, everyone is at the same level because of common experiences. It builds onto the culture of connecting with humans more intimately. Art demands that kind of involvement,” said Patil, a former architect.
“We’re getting done with our winter break soon, so my friend and I wanted a relaxing day. We are complete amateurs, but it’s something we have never tried. We always end up going to a cafe or to the movies to spend an afternoon but this is a more creative way to bond,” said, student Vidhi Aggarwal (16), who attended the painting party with her friend. Hosting up to seven parties a week, Patil is convinced that casual restaurants create a less intimidating space for people to express themselves through art since they are popular hangout spots.
Banker and painting aficionado, Isha Gupta (30), attended the event to learn the texture-based impasto knife painting technique. “A new technique is always fun to learn in such an environment. You come to a venue like this to drink most of the time, but here, you are on a sunny Saturday afternoon – munching on food and painting. It’s quite a refreshing change,” she said.
Patil believes that the notion of a “creative type” is a myth, which she set out to deconstruct two years ago at her own housewarming party.
“I invited my friends over to paint. At first, they didn’t take me seriously, but I made a full-fledged invite and got them to attend my party. Thereafter, the pictures went viral on social media and I knew then that my biggest passion has always been to see people get creative in life. If you haven’t painted all your life, it doesn’t mean you’re not creative, it only means that you haven’t attempted it. Creativity is innate to human beings,” she said.
Diana Lobo (35), an IT professional and a mother of two children complains about not finding the time to paint. “Having two kids doesn’t leave much time for painting. The last time I picked up a paintbrush was twelve years ago. But, now that my kids are slightly grown up, I chose to do this for myself. It is therapeutic,” she said.
Attempting to simplify an impasto painting of daisies and lavender hydrangeas in a vase, Patil takes the participants through a step-by-step explanation of the technique, and simultaneously, encourages them to exercise their own creative visions.
Neha Manglik (24) attended the party with her mother. Having attended three Bombay Drawing Room parties in the past, she said: “I love the sense of community here — it’s built on shared passions and a lot of positive affirmations. Activities like watching a movie with my mother is very passive while art is engaging. So, I’m here to bond with my mother on a personal and artistic level.”
Nishtha Juneja (24) describes her love for these events taking place in a fast-paced city like Mumbai by saying: “When you’re painting, you spend time with yourself; you’re making small decisions like how much blue to mix with white. It helps me relax and take my own time with things — something that will help me for the Monday morning that is about to come.”
Describing the idea of painting parties, Patil said: “A lot of people as children have had a thing with art; there is always a little connect. Then as life happens, we grow up and drift away from it. But it is the most accessible medium of art. People attend our parties because I think it gives them a sense of confidence in their abilities and builds an emotional experience — maybe with their past or their present creation.”
Providing an escape from tight schedules, these painting parties give people the opportunity to reconnect with themselves and socialise with other paint-lovers.