The Commons is a very chic, loft-like, open plan mall space with a wealth of dining and drinking venues, situated at the Petchaburi Road end of Thong Lo (Sukhumvit 55). Here you’ll find a breezy aerobics studio and a few retail outlets such as a vintage clothing store and music equipment shop, but on a Tuesday evening just the other week, it was to the very top floor of this rather impressive space that I headed for a drawing class with the Pop Up Art Studio.

We got there shortly before the class started and were introduced to our teacher Lala who explained a little about what we would be doing, as we ordered drinks and snacks from “Roast”; a restaurant which I’ve previously enjoyed at the Emquartier Mall and whose creators are also the siblings behind The Commons itself.

Lala started off by getting us familiar with the charcoal medium we would be using; having us use different types and experiment with how we put down marks on the page. As our group was of mixed ability, for each of us to make random, seemingly senseless marks on our own large blank, white surface immediately equalized everyone and made me feel much less self-conscious about my ability. It also helped me become familiar with using charcoal and what textures could be achieved with various types through a wide range of drawing methods. She had us draw with our non-dominant hand, make the lightest and darkest marks we could, draw at entire arm’s length, and other methods which allowed us to see the array of effects we could achieve.

Then we moved on to a more expressionist form of drawing the actual still life arrangements which were laid before us, sketching as quickly and crudely as we could the main essence of the objects to capture their form with worrying about detail, perspective or accuracy.

After these exercises Lala demonstrated methods of getting a composition of objects down on the page; how to achieve perspective and loosely / lightly build the objects up relative to each other before filling in areas with any detail. By that point everyone felt confident and loosened up enough to tackle their main drawing, and as we all became absorbed in our creations, so the teacher continued to move among us providing support and suggestions as needed by each of us. In the end I was pleasantly surprised by my work, and everyone else pieces were wonderful; very diverse in style from one another. Materials are all provided by Pop Up Art Studio, so there’s nothing to bring along apart from friends, and you can take your work home with you at the end.

It is a great evening for a group of friends, and with a menu of food and drink (both soft and alcoholic) readily available, it would lend itself well to a creative after work office social or a more cultured and unique birthday celebration than the usual bar or restaurant.