Learn to paint with Bob Ross—and cocktails!  | HerCanberra

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Learn to paint with Bob Ross—and cocktails! 

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Co.laboratory’s workshops are a fun way to nail creative skills with a cocktail in-hand.  

I have a confession to make. Before last week, I didn’t know who Bob Ross was.

I know, I know. How could I not love that iconic hairdo and those dulcet tones? For those reading this blankly (as I would have, a week ago), you likely already know Bob Ross, even if the name is unfamiliar.

The host of TV show The Joy of Painting across the ‘80s and ‘90s (which has since achieved cult status), Bob Ross had one message to send to the world—that with a little direction and some encouragement, anyone can paint.

In each episode, Bob Ross walks you through each painting step by step, his voice happy and soothing. Essentially, he embodied both ASMR and mindful creativity before either were invented. And while Bob passed away in 1995, his legacy lives on’ having found a new generation of fans through YouTube.

Enter the Boozy Bob Ross Painting Party—which was where I found myself last week. The creative brainchild of Canberra artist Brooke McEachern, the painting parties are run by Brooke’s new venture—Co.laboratory.

“Co.laboratory is a local social enterprise of pop up creative workshops run by artists and makers with the intention of supporting the Canberra art community,” explains Brooke. “These workshops are a novel experience for Canberrans to learn

creative skills in areas of expertise of the artists we contract, from painting and printmaking to travel journaling and making beeswax wraps.”

Held in the airy loft space above POP Canberra’s Lonsdale Street shop, a Boozy Bob Ross Painting Party is the perfect reason to get the gang together, or as an end-of-year team building or Christmas party activity, hen’s do, birthday treat or just because—like me—you’ve always wanted to try painting.

So, what can one expect at a painting party? Well, if I’m being totally honest, maybe a little bit of self-doubt at the beginning.

After I had torn myself away from POP Canberra’s plethora of local goodness downstairs, I made my way up to the loft and immediately saw a painting of a wooded scene sitting at the front of the class. It was Bob Ross’s Delightful Meadow Home— the painting we were going to learn.

My first thought: “You’re kidding me—I can’t do that”.

My second thought: “Mine is going to look comically bad by comparison”.

Enter Brooke, wearing a big smile as she handed me a freshly mixed mimosa and showed me to my seat. An easel and paints were set up, with the ‘Delightful Meadow Home episode of The Joy of Painting queued on a flat-screen TV at the front of the class.

After we took our seats, it wasn’t long until Brooke made us all at ease with her gentle banter, comprehensive introduction to all the tools we would be using and her assurance that we would do just fine or, more accurately, that we would nail it.

The next hour was spent listening to Bob’s soothing voice as he guided us through our painting step-by-step as we sipped mimosas and learned that…hey, this might not be so hard after all.

Beatrice’s artwork.

Keeping a reassuring eye on our easels, Brooke acted as the perfect conduit for Bob’s lesson—her ANU Art School graduate eye picking up on the little details we were missing and guiding us through each brush change, colour blending mishap and new technique.

By the end of Bob’s lesson, we each had a canvas that actually didn’t look too far from the example. In fact, Brooke explained that the example painting was done by none other than her mum, who attended one of her previous workshops despite her protestations that she’d never painted before. Well, there you go.

Brooke explains that Co.laboratory’s whole summer program has been built on a try-it-and-see basis, with collaboration and creativity the only goal.

“Bob Ross painting workshops were just a novel thing to see if anyone would be interested in and I was so surprised by the amount of support it received,” she says.

“For just doing a little thing for fun in something that I love, I received so much love and support from everyone I talked to about it that there was absolutely no excuse to not give it a go.”

In addition to future Boozy Bob Ross Painting Parties, Co.laboratory is also hosting a Creative Travel Journal Workshop and Christmas Doodles illustration workshop in partnership with Doodlesdo, a Cocktails and beeswax wrap workshop and a Chunky Merino Arm Knit Blanket workshop—all in POP Canberra’s Lonsdale Street loft space.

“I want to support and make accessible the artists and makers around Canberra as well as the Canberra-identifying spaces we pop up in,” explains Brooke.

“It’s taken off so quickly and it’s really exciting how many people want to get involved and the conversations I’m having about a variety of workshop-based events. I’m loving the love around here.”

Brooke McEachern.

the essentials

What: Christmas Doodles workshop by Doodlesdo: design your own Christmas cards and tags using fun Doodles
When: Friday 22 November from 6–7.30 pm
Where: POP Canberra, 27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
More info: Click here

What: Creative Travel Journaling with Doodlesdo: Collect, forage and doodle the best souvenir you could ever bring home from your trip
When: Sunday 24 November from 2–3.30 pm
Where: POP Canberra, 27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
More info: Click here

What: Boozy Bob Ross Painting Party
When: 1 and13 December
Where: POP Canberra, 27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
More info: Click here

What: Cocktails and sustainable beeswax food wraps by Happy B.
When: Thursday 12 December from 6–8 pm
Where: POP Canberra, 27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
More info: Click here

What: Merino Blanket Arm Knit Workshop
When: Sunday 15 December from 11 am–12.30 pm
Where: POP Canberra, 27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
More info: Click here

This editorial was created in partnership with Co.laboratory. For more information on sponsored partnerships, click here

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