“All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.” -Bob Ross
It was a windy Saturday night in Newport Beach as I made my way into the well lit studio that serves as the headquarters for BrushTokes, a company that provides unique painting sessions each month to anyone looking for an excuse to get out and release their creative energy. As I made my way to the nearest empty canvas and settled into my chair I noticed a table adorned with pipes, joints, and jars of flowers neatly displayed for anyone to use while the class was in session. While the group anxiously waited for the session to begin I had already secretly called dibs on the jar of animal cookies I spied on my way in. This class hadn’t even begun and it was already a million times better than my last art class which was in 2002. I barely passed that horrible semester with a C+ after reminding Mr. Gregory that a failing grade meant another year of dealing with my hi jinx.
Our Instructor Kelly, was an angel. Her calming voice guided our brushes across each canvas while a soundtrack of reggae and tropical beats helped me stay focused on blending. The theme of the night was a palm tree, bright and resolute, against a backdrop of a sunset. With endless color possibilities it was up to each artist to add their own style and color pallet. After consuming a few bowls of OG Asteroids grown by Sacred Mendo I picked up at Mr. Nice Guy OC I had a cool buzz and was feeling ready to get weird with it.
Each phase of creating our own picturesque scene was curated by Kelly with step by step instructions on everything from brush placements to blending techniques and tips. Usually I fail at every attempt to make anything someone would call “art”. But with Kelly’s helpful directions I was already practicing the backstory for my cover feature in New York Times. It might have been the steady stream of reggae, vibes, and cannabis but I was feeling like an Irie Picasso.
Halfway through the event we took a break for some light snacks provided by Sweet Life Food Truck and an opportunity for me to check out my competition. After a quick trip around the room it was clear that Kelly’s helpfulness hadn’t just worked on me, every single artist had a painting worthy of a spot in a gallery or at the very least on their refrigerator. Once the class was finished and the paint had dried I took my masterpiece with me to my favorite bar and gifted it (without consent) to their wall above the men’s urinals in the most Banksy-esque way I could, with tape. I’m told my art will hang until some drunk idiot takes it and that’s fine with me because I plan on attending more of BrushTokes entertaining classes, at least until I get a call back from LACMA.
Jefferson Matthew VanBilliard is a leo that enjoys all things cannabis and is just trying his best. He let us know that although the desert will always be his home you can find him on Fourth St. in Santa Ana battle rapping teenagers or at the local high school where he coaches girls varsity volleyball without anyone’s permission.