Having been here in Doha almost 4 years now, there’s only so many dinners you can go to for a couple’s date night. So yesterday evening, we thought we’d try something different: spending the night painting idyllic tropical scenes of flamingos and flowers under the supervision of a pro artist.
The night got off to a great start, when I mistakenly thought we were going to the Retaj Al Rayyan hotel and not the Al Rayyan hotel (a further 7 miles and 30 minutes away!) Luckily I had planned for us to leave unnecessarily early in the first place, due to my fear that the food would run out before we got there.
As is customary tradition in Doha, on arrival, the gentlemen at the valet parking services seemed confused at our queries and bemused at our mention of the painting. Our failed attempts at mimes for paint brushing and cutting off an ear like Van Gogh got us nowhere but eventually one of them asked if we were here for ‘the event’. Of course we were!
Once inside we were immediately pointed in the direction of ‘the event’. A row of easels were set up just outside the entrance to the hotel via the South gate of the Mall of Qatar.
We were warmly welcomed and shown to the table with a refreshing fruity cranberry mocktail waiting for us. Just as we were getting seated, a fellow participant decided to steal the canvas from my wife’s spot, starting a domino effect where I had to find one that didn’t have marks on like the one below.
I was suddenly concerned about how ultra-competitive this was going to be. As someone who had last painted in primary school and had zero technique or artistic inclinations, I knew I’d be no match for the competition. In fact, interestingly, the rest of the competition was all female. I consoled myself with the fact that as long as no other blokes walked in, I would be guaranteed to win the award for best male artist.
We were given a stencil cut out to draw the outline of our flamingo and all the supplies we needed: pencil, paints, water pot etc…
Our artist for the evening guided us through step by step, starting with the mixing of our red and white paints to create different shades of pink. The final end result was supposed to be something like this:
My wife had the idea that her flamingo would be looking the other way, so our paintings would meet eye to eye like star crossed lovers. She didn’t factor in that mine ended up looking like a fat pink duck, making this quite the bizarre interspecies romance.
As you can see below, my one had piled on a few pounds and been to a few too many brunches since that first painting of him.
At this point, we let the paint dry a little and sampled the buffet. It was a nice selection to keep you going and with enough fuel in your tank to paint all evening. I firmly believe that gorging on the buffet meatballs sparked my creativity to a new level when I resumed to a soundtrack of upbeat pop music.
Our artist instructor suggested the next stage for us, however I didn’t quite hear what she said because we were in quite an open space with a lot of ambient noise around us. Looking around at all the gifted artists on the table and their wonderful creations, my rebellious streak kicked in and on a carbohydrate crazed rampage, I went to town on my painting, trying to fill the block with as much as possible. I tested out all manner of colour combinations before settling on my chosen few.
At this point, I had to carefully consider that the longer I spent on my painting, the more likely it was that I may ruin it. My limited artistic talent had run its course and quite literally I was now watching paint dry as I waited for my wife to finish her masterpiece.
After coming back from the facilities, I thought I’d treat myself to a celebratory piece of cheesecake. A lady who I thought was a participant but was also helping to organise the event, told me that the food is reserved only for the painters. It was a harrowing thought that my lack of skill and lack of faithful reproduction to the original would cost me my dessert. However, it soon transpired that she did not recognise me (the only male on the table!) without my purple apron on my shoulders. We had a good laugh about this and she was very apologetic.
This cheesecake trauma now over, we were wrapping up for the evening. The time had absolutely flown by. Everyone was totally focused on their artistic creations and all seemed to be having a lovely time too. The organisers commented that in future meet ups they will vary the surfaces we paint on, from glassware to the wood blocks we used today to make a change from traditional canvas.
I must say this was one of the most therapeutic and calming experiences I’ve had in Doha. The organisers and assistants were very helpful, friendly and welcoming. One thing to note though, the acoustics made it difficult to hear at times.
It was a nice mix of first timers and seasoned veterans. As someone who never paints and has little to no skill, I still felt able to participate in the event and rather proud of my pink duck creation. I was hoping that there might be a few more couples there but perhaps it was just this event.
At 250 QR, it sounds a little on the expensive side but relative to all things in Doha, I think its really good value. Our materials were all high quality, we were fed and at the end of the day we could take home our masterpieces too. The organising team were working hard all evening to make sure we enjoyed ourselves and there’s obviously a lot of prep involved too. Unfortunately, as Al Rayyan hotel was a dry hotel, we had soft drinks only but I’ve been informed that you will be able to paint under the influence at their city centre Rotana events. Now we’re just busy trying to figure out where to put these little beauties.
For more info on ‘Paint the Town Qatar’ you can follow their facebook page for upcoming events