Kris Cere is an artist, educator, and a comedian who keeps the night light and funny as he leads his Pop-Up Paint Studios classes at the Barn, Bowl & Bistro in Oak Bluffs. At a recent paint party, the room was chock-full of 21 students, half of whom had been to his monthly event before. There were men and women of all ages and levels of experience in art, but most had absolutely no experience with painting.
In addition to the five or so table areas upstairs, there was a bar with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and everything from finger food to a full meal could be ordered and brought up from the restaurant below. Cere’s partner, Jake Hiller, was in charge of the music, which enhanced the party atmosphere. It’s hard not to relax and have fun when Madonna’s “Holiday” is playing in the background.
At the very start, Cere stressed that the night was about the process, not the product, saying “It’s very low-key. No pressure. We’re all here to have fun; that’s why there’s a bar. The two hours you are here, no one’s judging you. We’re all enjoying each other.”
Everyone had his or her own canvas propped up on an easel on the table, along with a palette of acrylic paint and three brushes, which Cere named for each size and referred to throughout the night when giving instructions. The brushes sat in a large jar of water, which both cleaned the brushes and could be used to thin the colors so that they were more of a wash than thickly loaded paint strokes.
Cere helped everyone be an accomplished artist that night by taking the group through a step-by-step process of painting the picture that he had projected on the two screens in the front of the room. He stood between the screens just to the side of his own blank canvas on which he would demonstrate what the guests were to do on their own work. The painting was a winter landscape. This one had a large, looming yellow and orange sunset against a blue sky behind a snow-covered woodland scene, with a brook snaking across the landscape. He stressed that painters could use any colors they wished; they don’t have to follow his scheme.
Cere’s instructions were very precise, and after following along with his demonstration, people were able to make their own masterpieces.The first step was creating the luminous sun. He had everyone use white paint to create a circle, and then various shades of yellow circling that, with warm red tones emanating outward. Before moving forward, there was a “drying break.”
“This involves a little bit of cardio, so I apologize if you’ve already worked out today. But I’m your personal trainer now, so you’re going to grab your canvas and stand up and what we’re going to do is ‘shake it off,’” Cere directed the group. Jake turned up the music and everyone followed Cere, waving their canvas up and down while dancing to the tune and enjoying this way of drying the canvas before the next step.
Cere explained that he started this practice about a year ago. “It gets the blood pumping,” he said. All the drying breaks were not only helpful, but also added to the party atmosphere.
As folks were working away, I walked around and stopped to talk to a few. This was the second time Angelo Mariano attended the class. “I enjoy it,” he said. “The freedom to express how I paint compared to others, and see the differences there are. It gives me something else to do. I never painted before I came to this class a couple of months ago. I came the first time because I always wanted to paint but I never had a chance.”
Jen Wiggin is clearly a fan of the Pop-Up Paint Studios. “This is my 17th class. I know, it’s crazy,” she said with a smile.
It was Renata Lacerda’s first time, even though she works at the Barn. “I used to do art, and I still try to every now and then. I have always done art since I was about 4 years old, and I love it. I’ve always wanted to do Cere’s class, and now I finally got the chance,” Lacerda said.
Brooke and Emily Avakian were attending together, and emphasized that the event was fun, affordable, and “something to do in the winter on the Vineyard.” Ann Metcalf pointed down the table at her office mates. With a big grin, she said she was really enjoying herself because “they’re lovely people, so of course I’m going to have a good time. This is a group activity for us to come out and have some fun.” She explained that it doesn’t require a lot of artistic skill to walk away with something you can hang on your wall.
“We love to have families, friends, and we do charity events, parties, and even private one-on-ones if you wish,” Cere explained. He lives in Boston and produces events all over the place, but he says, “I love the Vineyard, so I make sure I do most of my business here. I do a different image every month. I create them beforehand. I have a bachelor’s in fine art in painting. I was in art education and moved to Boston after college, and tried to stick with art as much as I could. When I found this job, it was a godsend. It was teaching painting, which I love. I love the social environment. I love meeting random people. It’s fun because we’re not here to talk about politics or family, we’re just really here to have a good time.”
Cere will hold his Pop-Up Paint Studios events every month at the Barn, Bowl & Bistro for the rest of the year, with two a month for June, July, and August, and resuming to once a month for the fall. The next workshop is Saturday, March 9, and his newly launched website, popuppaintstudios.com, will list the subsequent dates and registration information.