Jun 17, 2022
PAINT – The Book is pretty spesh, if we do say so ourselves. The very first of its kind, this book is a take-home paint and sip experience, bursting at the seams with painting tips, tricks, and insights, and home to twenty of our all-time favourite Cork & Chroma paintings. Each painting is broken down into individual steps and accompanying imagery, so all you need to do is set yourself up with your arty equipment and a cuppa, and come along for the ride. Someone who has never painted before (but also, those who have!) can use this book as a guide for learning how to work with acrylic paint to create their very own masterpiece… all while painting from home.
PAINT’s authors Hillary Wall and Erin Corstiaans wrote this book together over about two years; most of the writing was done during the COVID-19 pandemic and its multitude of lockdowns, when our studios in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne were forced to close. This pandemic revealed just how important it is to find ways to express ourselves creatively, even if that means painting from home in pyjamas. In fact, painting from home has many perks: you can paint at your own pace, using whatever window of time is available to you. You can leave your arty space set up so it’s always at the ready for when your creative muse visits. You can take as many snack breaks as you want. And, once you’re done, you can simply hang your painting straight on the wall!
When Hillary and I (Erin) launched this book, our mums were the first to get copies. It just so happens that our mums (hi mum, if you’re reading this) and many other mums and family members of our team, are some of our biggest supporters at Cork & Chroma. Rhonda, one such C&C aficionado, is the mum of one of our Melbourne artists, Tom. Rhonda has been to several of our in-studio sessions, and is the first person we know who has painted her way through all twenty paintings from PAINT – The Book! What an achievement! What’s more, she enjoyed herself and this process so much, she’s now started on her second lap.
I recently interviewed Rhonda about her painting from home experience with PAINT – The Book, and was overjoyed to hear all about her creative process and journey. From creative roadblocks, to breakthroughs, to alien dildo cacti… here it is!
Hi Rhonda! First up, what was your favourite painting (or paintings) from the collection, and why?
Can we start with an easier question? I loved so many of them… Blue City, Bespoke Romance, Floral Shadows, Espresso Yourself, How Apeeling. I’m not sure why they stood out… maybe it’s because I was happy with the final result or I just enjoyed the process of creating those particular paintings. What I found interesting as I worked through the book, was that some of the paintings I didn’t expect to enjoy were really fun, and even the ones I didn’t particularly like still taught me something about placement, colour or technique (although let’s not even mention Desert Dreaming A.K.A. the alien dildo cactus!).
How did your experience painting from home with the book compare to an in-studio Cork & Chroma session?
I’ve done quite a few studio sessions now and it really is such a fun thing to do. I just love the atmosphere and watching everyone’s paintings take shape… they are all so different. It is nice to have the support of the leading artist and learn the ‘tips of the trade’ from them as you go through the steps. I think it was also very helpful that I’d done those studio sessions because I wasn’t so daunted when I started with the book.
Painting from home gives me the luxury of taking more time with each of the steps and being able to finesse things a bit more. I can dip into a painting several times a day or leave it for a week or so before going back to it. Whenever I pick up my brushes I just go into my own little creative bubble and don’t think about anything except the paint and the canvas, which is amazing.
Are there any new painting tips, tricks, or techniques you learned from the book? If so, how have these influenced your work?
So, so many… how to mix colour, how to highlight, how to create shapes, how to add shadows and reflections, how to have patience and let each layer dry properly, how to be happy when things don’t turn out how you wanted. I actually cried the first time I painted in the Cork & Chroma studio because I couldn’t get the details right, but now I realise that it is all part of the process and it’s ok for your painting not to be perfect.
The biggest tip I can give anyone wanting to start painting using the book is to buy a canvas artist’s pad and work on that. It’s not as daunting as painting on an actual canvas and if something isn’t going as well as you would like you can easily start over on a new sheet (just be aware that the dimensions are slightly different to the canvas used in the book so your proportions might be a little bit different).
How did you feel when you created painting #1, versus how you felt creating painting #20? Did you follow the paintings in order or jump around?
I worked through them all methodically from 1 – 20 except for Moonlit Blossoms. Initially I wasn’t going to do that one because I had already painted it in the Cork & Chroma Studio, but I decided I wanted to stay faithful to the book so slotted it in around 3 – 4. (I’d also done Parisian Stroll in studio and was so much happier with my second attempt… that was the one that brought me to tears the first time). I could definitely see a huge improvement when I got to the last few in the book; I was more confident with what I was doing and able to fix things if they weren’t looking like I wanted. The first few paintings I followed the steps religiously and was trying to ensure my efforts looked exactly like the examples but as I worked through, I experimented a bit more and was a lot freer with it all.
What did your creative process look like? Did you hit any roadblocks, or have any breakthroughs?
I’m very fortunate to have a craft room at home so I was able to set up my paints and easel and work on the paintings whenever I felt like it. I definitely hit roadblocks with a few of them… just not being able to get the shapes or colours right… but I used the tips and techniques in the book (with a few pointers from my son Tom who is a lead artist at the Collingwood Studio) to work through them until I got a finished painting I was happy with.
The main breakthrough I had was to not try to get it perfect every time and to enjoy the process. One of the biggest thrills I got was when I showed my Espresso Yourself painting to a friend and she said, “What a shame you spilt coffee on that one!” Knowing my coffee dribbles looked so realistic was a real breakthrough.
Who would you recommend Paint – The Book to, and why?
Can I say everyone? I seriously think that anyone from a novice to a more experienced artist would get something out of this book, whether that’s just learning the step-by-step process of creating the paintings or following the advice to relax into it and have fun. I recommended it to my hairdresser and she absolutely loved it. Even if you don’t want to do the paintings it is a beautiful book to have on your shelf or coffee table.
We heard you’ve started painting all twenty paintings again! How is your experience so far with revisiting these pieces? Are you doing anything differently this time around?
I’ve taken a bit of a break because of work deadlines and recovering from Covid but I am really keen to do them all again. I think this time I will start with the ones I wasn’t happy with the first time and try to figure out where I went wrong (although wrong is a very bad choice of word, maybe ‘struggled with’ describes it better). I’m also looking forward to playing with colour and technique to see if I can put my own spin on some of my favourites. And, of course, I can’t wait to visit one of the Cork & Chroma studios and try my hand at the fabulous new paintings on offer.
Inspired to try painting from home yourself? Grab a copy of PAINT – The Book here, and begin your own creative journey. Let us know how you go!
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Paint and sip — that’s us for sure. But did you know? We’re so much more!
All the options, no restraints. All you need to do is paint.