I wouldn’t call myself a control freak or say I’m obsessed with cleanliness. In fact, I don’t have just one “junk drawer”—I have so many that the overflow goes into something we call “the garbage box.” But I’ll admit to having a fondness for order and symmetry. They are calming, amid chaos. So, I did not immediately go ham when presented with the opportunity to throw, spray, drip, splurt, and shoot (from a foam “splatter gun”) paint onto a canvas at Virginia-Highland’s new Splatter Studio. (A second location recently opened in Sandy Springs.)
Here’s how it works: Arrive at this open room at your appointed time, pay $55, and you’ll receive one hour of studio time, a disposable poncho, a pair of disposable shoe covers, protective gloves, a 16-by-20-inch canvas, a take-home box, and permission to get artistic. (The only real rule: Don’t splash paint on other people.)
It’s the perfect place for skeptics who have looked at a Jackson Pollock drip painting and scoffed, I could do that.
During my visit, I watched as my 10-year-old son painted with abandon, hurling glops of red on top of strips of black on top of splashes of hot pink, teal, and silver. He was having a blast. “I hope it doesn’t end up looking like a big brown mess,” he said, and I hoped the same, given that I wasn’t up for buying additional canvases (starting at $12).
Over in my station, I carefully swiped teal and blue stripes across the surface and used a bottle to create silver stalactite-like drips, then fanned out navy blue from the whiskers of a paintbrush. I made sure all of the colors matched.
At the end of the hour, as we took our masterpieces off the wall, I saw a wonderful thing: My painting was fine, yes, but my son’s? It was fantastic—a layered, textured, complex, and downright beautiful riot of color and shape. He’d painted something that looked like a redwood forest, seen through an oil-slick lens.
And that reminded me of something important. While there may not be any magnificence in my junk drawer, it’s okay to make a mess. Beauty is often found there.
This article appears in our May 2022 issue.