Painting Classes in the Riviera Maya with Canvas and Cocktails
Recently, despite the forecast of grey skies and thunderstorms, my two daughters and I took our seats in front of our canvases at Cocao Beach Club. This scenic meeting place at Punta Esmeralda beach in Playa del Carmen provided a superb backdrop for Canvas and Cocktails’ painting class. Fortunately the rain stayed away and we took full advantage of the perfect weather conditions. For three-hours, our group of ten Picasso wannabes delighted in the task at hand: to paint a beach portrait.
Jesse Montenegro, the organizer of these painting classes in paradise, has a very practical teaching method for those at the novice level (it helps that he speaks both English and Spanish fluently.) His passion for creating art ignited in 2004 and he has since dedicated many years to refining his technique. In time, his love for painting and his skill level grew to the point where he felt a strong desire to teach others. Speaking from first hand experience, Jesse believes that through the positive energy present in the creation process, comes ‘the ability to change the mood and inner creativity of all mankind.’
Originally from Chicago, he arrived in the Riviera Maya in 2016 to visit his brother. Jesse noticed straightaway an opportunity to share his expertise with beginner and aspiring artists within the community.
It wasn’t long before he was taking reservations for his popular painting classes in the nearby beach town of Puerto Aventuras. Jesse was thrilled to be able to share his passion with eager students. His fans loved the idea of an afternoon class accompanied by a glass of wine in a luscious tropical setting. In fact, Jesse’s Facebook page soon became flooded with requests for classes in Playa del Carmen.
With toes in the alabaster sand and armed with a set of brushes, we proceeded to discover our inner artists.
This outdoor studio on the beach, with its enchanting vista of the Caribbean Sea indeed incited the necessary inspiration. Yet, I was still skeptical that our finished products would resemble the painting Jesse had provided as an example. I simply went with a goal to learn a few basic techniques, while spending some quality time with daughters.
I was impressed with how well coordinated the event was. We arrived and were offered a fresh juice from a hollowed-out pineapple, with or without rum. The cocktail choice went well with the tropical beach theme.
Jesse was very attentive and helped us along the way, as we blended colors to achieve the deep blue sky, aqua seascape and sandy shoreline. I was so immersed in the details of my palm trees, I didn’t notice that the others had finished and were packing up their things to leave. The three (and a half) hours flew by and shockingly I heard not one complaint or ‘Is it over yet?’ from my nine and twelve year-old girls.
What I did not expect was that we would produce pieces of wall-worthy artwork! Thanks to Jesse’s simplistic instruction and encouragement, at the end of the class we were actually proud to pose for a photo and display our works. He promised throughout the class that we would each go home with a beautiful painting and he stayed true to his word.
Canvas and Cocktails takes place in fantastic venues along the picturesque Riviera Maya. There are seven events per month at such locales as Wah Wah Beach Bar and Carmen Beer Company in Playa del Carmen as well as two in Puerto Aventuras and one in Bahia Principe. During the week, the classes are typically offered in the afternoon and the weekend groups get together mid-morning.
Jesse includes all the supplies and one cocktail in the price of the class. He was thoughtful enough to choose mid-sized canvases, which visitors can easily fit into a carry-on bag. The classes are an excellent way to meet people, learn new or polish old skills, deepen bonds between family members or socialize with your favourite group of friends.