Salvador Dali, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia, Snoop Dogg... I’ve known, for quite some time, that cannabis elevates creativity. Consuming weed spurs divergent thinking in the frontal lobe of the brain. When I change my perception, inventive things begin to happen. That’s why, despite my normal hesitancy towards painting (I tend to be hyper critical of my brush strokes), I was truly excited to try Puff, Pass & Paint at Portland’s Prism House.
“Some things in life go well together. Making art and consuming cannabis are one of those prolific combos, helping me tune out things around me and tune in to the art I’m making, to myself and to my inspirations,” exclaimed Prism House owner and Puff, Pass & Paint hostess, Samantha.
After introductions and pleasantries, I picked out my easel and eagerly awaited a joint being passed around, rolled with a particularly lovely batch of Cinex, grown by Urban Fields. Cerebral, uplifting with a hint of skunky citrus; after a single hit, I was completely zoomed into the experience before me. I could feel lots of thinking outside the box and venturing beyond comfort zones radiating amongst my cohorts as Sam’s soothing, guiding voice drifted in and out of my consciousness:
If you’re stuck, pick a different brush...Have fun...Just let go...Dip your brush in water and paint if you’re not getting the desired effect...Art is a journey, not a place of arrival, it comes in many forms… Dip one end of your brush with blue and the other with black...Don’t take yourself too seriously...
I always heard what I needed to hear at the right time, and I enjoyed the dance-like tete-a-tete Sam and I shared throughout the evening. A good teacher is hard to find and I had just found one.
Jenn, Managing Editor of Weekend Review Kit, sat to my right. Her clever use of cannabis cut outs to create fireworks caught my attention. “As a writer, I live in a world of words. I'm not always as adept with modes of expression that don't involve some sort of language, but the environment, teacher, and emphasis on the process made it easy to relax, and the Cinex opened up a willingness to experiment,” she confided.
After spending half an hour perfecting my night sky, I felt stuck. That’s when William, of Half Baked Desserts, made an announcement about his cannabis-infused chocolate fudge sundaes with fresh raspberries on the table in the adjoining room. I made a bee-line towards the treats, excited I had taken a Lyft that evening. As I stuffed my face with the crispy, gooey ganja goodness, I struck up a conversation with Jen of Urban Fields. “I love to paint. I love coming to Prism House. I can bring a few joints, kick back, have fun and be creative. And the best part? I can tell I’m getting better with each session!” she beamed.
Baked, I asked her to repeat her name a few times. She was kind enough to oblige. In fact, everyone was really nice. I appreciated the intimate crowd, capped at about 10 people.
Tonight was special. Heidi, the founder of Puff, Pass & Paint, flew in from Denver to join us. “I love being able to create a safe space for cannabis users to consume, laugh, chat, create and have a great time with people from around the world. Many haven't painted or made art in decades, so it's amazing to see them let loose and follow their whims,” she shared. And let loose, I did. It was a real treat to bounce ideas, get high, and create art in a non-judgemental space.
Sarah Jane, Dope Magazine’s Journalist of the Year, sat two seats down from me and created one of my favorite mixed media pieces of the evening — a patriotic scene with flying pizzas donning red sequins. She revealed, “I'd never painted before and I wanted to spark my creativity, and I felt the use of cannabis would lower my anxiety and help me overcome my inhibitions.” Jen’s Cinex did the trick.
With razor sharp focus, I cut out images from magazines and glued them onto my painting as Talking Heads played in the background. Scrambling, I finished my mind-altered masterpiece. More joints were lit. I was lit. I was so lit I knocked my bottle of water all over the floor. Everyone remained kind, so kind they invited me back the next night for Prism House’s one year anniversary party.
On the way out, I grabbed a fist full of Margalaxy Moon Bars made by Margaux, the proprietor of Portland’s popular juice bar, Best Friend. She was kind enough to sponsor the event with her delicious vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, organic, raw snacks. She added, “No class is the same, which leaves you room to grow the creative mind and cannabis opens that doorway, makes the brush strokes flow smoothly, allows me to feel confident with whatever I create...I just follow my brush and let my mind's eye do the work.”
Currently Puff, Pass & Paint is held in Denver and Portland with classes being added in Washington D.C. in August. California and Nevada are next.