The last time I did any kind of painting, or an art class for that matter, was at school. That’s two decades ago! So, yes…it’s been a rather long time since I last sat down in an apron and dipped a brush into some paint to create a picture simply for art’s sake.
That was until last Friday when I was invited down to London to try out a mindful art workshop at MasterPeace. Billed as London’s first dedicated mindful art experience, MasterPeace offers a number of workshops throughout the week including painting, sketching, calligraphy, and more. The workshops are arranged in small groups and workshops take place every day so there’s usually something to suit.
They absolutely welcome beginners, like myself, and simply offer a space to enjoy art, being creative, and the mindfulness that comes with artistic practice.
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What is MasterPeace?
In their own words:
“At MasterPeace, guests can create beautiful, personal works of art, with the help of one of our team of professional artists, in our inclusive and relaxed studio! We’ve developed a new way to start drawing and painting effortlessly, using light as a guide to turn your favourite photos into paintings, even as a total beginner, in just 90 minutes.”
My past experience of art at school
I honestly had no expectations going into my MasterPeace workshop. I don’t think of myself as particularly artistic. I have an appreciation for the arts, I adore going to art galleries, and I do think I’m creative. It’s just my creativity is expressed more through photography, video and writing.
My own only experience with painting has been at school, where I didn’t enjoy it all. I was constantly made to feel un-creative, or unskilled through low-ish grades and lack of encouragement from art teachers at school. I just thought I couldn’t paint. I believed I wasn’t very good at art.
I have a distinct memory of being a teenager doing my art homework. I remember putting loads of effort into one particular piece of homework. I conceived what I thought was quite a creative interpretation of the brief, I worked carefully to draw a still life, and drew to proportion with great shading and care. I received one of my lowest grades for that piece of work. I didn’t understand and I was crushed. What was the point in working on my art if the hardest I worked didn’t reflect in the grades? I guess I was a little disillusioned and it killed my enjoyment of the subject.
And so, I haven’t picked up an art set since year 9 of school. Gosh, I can’t believe it’s been so long.
My experience of mindful painting at MasterPeace
Fast forward to last week and I turn up at MasterPeace with curiosity about the concept but no high hopes for my ability.
I was curious to see how doing a workshop of painting on a Friday evening could work as a mindful activity. I was perhaps a little concerned that it might be stressful if I got self-conscious about my ability. But honestly, as soon as I met my teacher for the evening I was soon put at ease.
I turned up at MasterPeace to find it to be a small but beautifully decorated space. There are two painting areas, one on the ground floor and the other on a mezzanine level. There are paintings adorning the walls, plants, lights, and pots of paintbrushes all around.
I had signed up for the ‘Coached’ workshop, which is “using our unique tech-hacks, paint your own photo from your smartphone and leave with a one-of-a-kind MasterPeace.”
Once I’ve got my apron on (which I must say feels very artist-y – I liked that very much!) my tutor runs me through a couple of warm-up activities.
There is a short meditation moment where I close my eyes, the lights are turned down, and we use that moment to release the stresses of the day and feel present ‘in the moment’.
To warm up to painting our main piece I was asked to draw a quick-timed portrait of my husband who happened to be with me to help me take photos for the blog. Poor husband, ha! I didn’t have time to think about what a terrible draw-er I am, I drew his face the best I could with quite a lot of giggling. My tutor complimented my proportions and I felt a sense of positivity for the session.
The next exercise was to draw the same face but with my eyes closed for 30 seconds. Cue lots of laughter and a very Picasso-esque portrait. It was a great way to loosen up for the session and break the ice of putting instruments to paper.
All warmed up I was ready for my painting. I picked a photo from my phone library. For me, I wanted to do something relatively simple that I could feasibly finish in the workshop timeframe so I choose a photo of a glass of purple tulips.
The tutor plugged my phone into a small projector in front of me which displayed my tulips on top of my paper. I had a good look at the colours in the picture and filled my palette with some acrylic paints.
To start with I drew a quick pencil outline of the photo to make sure I had the correct proportions to guide me. Then, with a little bit of hesitation, I started to mix some colours.
The tutor was super encouraging. She could see how unsure I was and gently guided me on how to mix the paints to get the shades I might like. And then it was paint-to-paper time. I was so hesitant to get started, but talking it through with the tutor helped me finally start.
The rest of the session was kind of a blur, to be honest. I was so involved in the painting process.
Reader, I LOVED it!
That hour kind of flew by but I was able to slowly work through my painting, mixing colours as necessary with the guidance of my tutor. I was sipping on peppermint tea (they did offer prosecco and snacks as well) and pottering along with my picture.
The result is a painting I am super proud of, I am utterly thrilled with the result and almost can’t believe I painted that! It’s good enough to proudly hang up on the wall at home.
I had an amazing art session where I really did switch off and stayed present in the moment. The great thing about the MasterPeace session is that I felt calm from the mindfulness aspect of just concentrating on artistic activity, plus I was ecstatic that a total beginner like myself could produce something so pretty. Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled.
I’ve got a beautiful painting that I created to take home. And the lovely finish to the workshop is that MasterPeace have frames for the pictures as well. So you can go home with a ready-to-hang picture.
I am super pumped by my experience. I painted something! And it was lovely!
As soon as I got home I was looking up other sessions to see when I could go back. I genuinely cannot wait to go again and definitely want to sign my husband up for a class as I know he’ll love it.
The workshops are pretty reasonably priced in my opinion. And as the studio is located a 5 minutes walk away from Victoria train station it is super easy to get to when you’re in London. I’d highly recommend it.
Final thoughts on art as mindfulness
Mindfulness at its crux is about being present in the moment. Creating art is one such tool to help practice mindfulness. Just this short experience of painting a picture has opened my eyes to a whole new way to practice mindfulness.
And as we live in a world that increasingly keeps us both busy and connected at all times, it is a welcome relief to simply switch off for 90 minutes and focus on creating something.
MasterPeace is a relaxed studio where you can create personal works of art supported by professional artists. You use a light/projector to guide you to turn your favourite photos into paintings. So even beginners can create a beautiful piece of art in just 90 minutes.
MasterPeace is located at Eccleston Yards, Belgravia.