In dire need of a break from finals, I went to a “Sip and Paint Study Break”  last thursday. Co-sponsored by the Creative Arts Club and the UHS Health Promotion Office, I learned how to watercolor paint a cherry blossom branch and made a so-called “Yellow Jacket Mocktail.”

The event was led by student artist  junior Naushin Khan, along with senior Alma Petras, the outgoing Creative Arts Club president. I was not one of the first 25 people to register, so I sadly didn’t get a free watercolor set and had hit Michael’s for the cheapest one I could find. I’ll admit — I was quite salty when not even 25 people showed up. However, once I got over it (after reminding myself it was only $6), the event was quite relaxing, as I painted delicate pink cherry blossoms onto my thin branch. 

Kahn and Petras gave us tips on how to make good sakura petals, such as adding a little bit of red to the center, along with some yellow dots to represent the stamen, and starting with a layer of light pink and adding a darker pink toward the middle. Kahn also shared some fun facts about sakura. She mentioned something about all the cherry trees in the U.S. originally coming from Japan, and the National Parks Service article detailing the over a century long timeline of the U.S. and Japan exchanging trees.

You know when you’re painting or drawing something and you reach an impasse? Do you add more, or do you leave the piece as it is? Most of the time when I add more, I ruin the entire thing. I can’t tell if I did that with my watercolor cherry blossom, but overall it came out looking better than the lilac I made with the Rochester Brainery a few weeks ago.. 

After finishing my painting, I turned to making one of the mocktails from the recipes sent to us before the event. I chose the 4-star difficulty rated Yellow Jacket mocktail over the 1-star Life’s a Beach (which was literally just pouring three drinks together). 

I boiled an absurd amount of blueberries, sugar, and water, mushed it all together, and strained it to make blueberry syrup and juiced a half lemon. The instructions said to be “mindful not to mix the ingredients” in the glass, yet that was physically and seemingly scientifically impossible as my lemon juice immediately dissolved into the blueberry syrup. Ideally, I’d imagine they would remain separate, forming blue-ish and yellow sections of liquid for our school colors. Instead, after adding the final ingredient, water (didn’t have sparkling), I got a raspberry colored drink that I garnished with a lemon wedge, tropical umbrella, and red straw. I felt like a real bartender using my parents’ mini measuring cup for the syrup. Also, like a bartender, I did not drink my own creation. I instead passed it on to my mom, who actually enjoys sugary drinks.

Her review? “Yum!” When asked for more details she responded that it was quite sweet and fruity, with a little tang. 

Watercolors are such a fun and mostly stress-free medium that I’d like to get into more in the future. I mostly make digital art with photography and graphic design, so it’s fun to get more hands on with other kinds of projects. I have an extra 1.5 cups of blueberry syrup, so I will also need to find a way to use that soon. Blueberry syrup on the rocks, anyone?

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