We met as strangers to ourselves and each other but, in just two hours, you leave with an understanding that art connects us in ways we sometimes fail to acknowledge.
The hustle and bustle of everyday work and life faded away as effortlessly as incense wafted through the Epican Café and Lounge at the Marketplace in Kingston.
A subtle but recognisably steady vibration from the surrounding music reminds you that Puff & Paint is far from what you had expected.
Not often as a journalist do I get to experience a new way of expression first hand. I’ve been most comfortable with words, but I was assured that tonight, through colour, my point of view would be different; and it was.
“I wanted to show the effect marijuana [can] have for persons in that creative process.”— Rozi Chung tells the BUZZ team
Two canvas, one pre-rolled joint and a palette over two hours. That’s the simple brilliance of Puff & Paint.
It’s just something you must see, feel, taste and hear on a personal level to truly believe and appreciate but I must say the experience was amazing.
Watch highlights of Puff & Paint in the video below:
BUZZ caught up with conceptualiser for Puff & Paint, Master painter Rosemarie Chung, who attests to the programme’s specialised qualities.
According to Chung, to get a genuine experience of art through medical marijuana, one needs to leave their expectations at the door.
“The programme basically is using marijuana with the creative arts, specifically painting. My focus is on non-artists and what I wanted to do was show the effect marijuana [can] have for persons in that creative process,” she explained.
First canvas: Connecting with your African roots
“You’re painting with very little instructions, but I do have a reference that I start you with, which are symbols that our foreparents used: the Adinkra symbols from Ghana,” ‘Rozi’ Chung told BUZZ.
A panel of 20 Adinkra symbols were lain out in front of us, with the instruction being very simple, “Choose what calls to you”.
Being the careful intellect I assume I am, I choose ‘knowledge’ and attempted the best I could to replicate the intricate design in the half-hour window we were given.
‘Puffing’, onto the 2nd canvas: Freestyle with colours
Then came the fun part: ‘puffing’. There was nothing really special about the pre-rolled joint handed to us by the staff at Epican, but its contents begged to differ.
“Puff & Paint is a way to start a journey of self-expression. Paint how you feel, use anything that comes naturally in your mind”— Rosemarie Chung, conceptualiser of Puff & Paint
Inside was the powerful ‘Lamb’s breath’ strain of sativa, reportedly Bob Marley’s favourite to smoke and the excitement (at least from my end) was palpable.
The high was clean and sharp, hitting you almost immediately but not totally claiming your senses…it was relaxing, euphoric.
“It’s a way to start a journey of self-expression,” ‘Rozi’ Chung told me, as we returned after refreshments to begin a second canvas – without any guidance, symbols or care in the world. “Paint how you feel, use anything that comes naturally in your mind,” she spoke to us collectively.
The explosion of colour took shape right away.
Speaking with the BUZZ team after the event, Chung explained further that she considers Puff & Paint to be an investigation into minds of any willing Jamaican – outside the scrutiny of Western concepts such as ‘who is or what makes one an artist’.
“I’ve been working from 2018, looking at how marijuana could either enhance the creativity or go within instinct; to begin to be aware of one’s creative possibilities,” Chung, founder of Studio174, told BUZZ.
“We already know that marijuana is used mostly in the entertainment industry, but what I’m doing is having people who had no career-minded outlook in the visual arts, try cannabis and see the results,” she added.
“There’s no competition, no reference; you’re totally free.”— Rozi Chung, instructor for Puff & Paint, giving the creative ‘go ahead’ for the second canvas
“We normally have 10 people working independently and every work is different. That is itself is quite amazing, because this process gets you to express your inner self in a particular way,”
For many participants, like myself, it was a shock to see what I created under the influence of marijuana, a reaction all too common to Rozi Chung and Epican.
“People are quite intrigued in this part of self – they’ve never had this experience. Generally, marijuana is used to chill, but to be able to use it in a way that you are intentionally creating something, is such an interesting thing for many,” Rozi Chung told BUZZ.
I, for one, was completely taken aback by my choice of colour for my second canvas, which started dark at the bottom but turned bright and airy nearest the top.
Arguably the best part of Puff & Paint (outside smoking and painting of course) was the fact that Epican was gracious enough to allow each participant to leave with their work!
Puff & Paint takes place around the last Tuesday of each month from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
The only requirements are that interested persons must have a doctor’s recommendation (which Epican provides) and an entry fee of $4,500.