Last week I took part in my very first Paint Nite event! You may have seen their discounted voucher offers floating around sites like Groupon. I purchased a couple for myself for the discounted price of $25, which I figured was a great deal considering the regular advertised price is $45 + tax.
What is Paint Nite? Think of it as a big, painting party:
Paint Nite® is a new concept of blending two timeless pastimes, artistic painting and drinking cocktails, as a way to draw patrons into local pubs on a slow night with a unique opportunity to socialize and be creative… [It] is about making art accessible to people who don’t consider themselves artists or creative in any way… about fostering a fun, low stress, non-judgmental environment that inspires everyone to enjoy the process of creating something from nothing.
I was a bit apprehensive about going solo, but was reassured a bit when I read that people attend these events both alone or with friends (there were a few other solo attendees at the event I went to). Paint Nite currently has events in over 50 cities in North America. The Toronto ones seem to be happening on multiple nights each week at an array of different venues, so if you’re interested then you’re bound to find an event that fits your schedule and location.
There’s absolutely no experience required for attending these events (thank goodness). I haven’t really painted before (except for a few short workshops at school), even though I own a wide range of paint supplies (that are about to be dusted off).
You register through the Paint Nite website. Each Paint Nite that’s offered has the name of the artist instructor, a photo of the painting that an artist will walk you through, a difficulty scale, as well as the location of the neighborhood restaurant or lounge in which the event will take place.
The event that I went to, “Safari Sunset”, took place at Allycatz. I found the 6:00 timeslot good for an after-work activity. Allycatz is a good venue to host Paint Nite, as the raised “stage” area was good for the artist to showcase all the steps to the painting. Though, I felt the seats were a little close together (I almost got poked in eye by a paintbrush by one of the people sitting beside me, and a couple wine glasses almost toppled over). Co-Organizer Nathan Schonberger and artist Basil Hendy greeted all of us eager painters as we walked in.
Each of the 32 stations were laid out neatly, complete with a 16″x20″ canvas, a styrofoam plate with 4 basic colours of acrylic paint that were needed to complete the artwork (red, yellow, black and white), an apron, brushes of three different sizes and a cup of water (for cleaning your brushes, not drinking… though I bet someone made that mistake before).
Everyone in attendance though was upbeat. You can sense the excitement as everyone wanted to complete their own masterpieces. The instructions were broken down by well-paced steps that were fairly easy to follow. There were some moments of frustration by a few who couldn’t get the shape of the elephant right (at first mine started to look like one of the walker vehicles from Star Wars), but Basil was extremely helpful and positive in his delivery of the painting instructions.
The evening lasted a little over 2 hours. My painting dried fairly quickly so that I could take it home right after the event. I was impressed with my final masterpiece (though I thought the tree came out a little strange so I tried to add to it when I got home… I also realized I initially forgot to add a tail to the baby elephant, so I fixed that as well). Signing my painting was probably the most difficult part (added a little water to the white paint to thin it out so that it was more fluid for my signature), so I ended up just shortening my name!
If you ever wanted to try your hand at painting, or just up for a fun, but different, night out with a group of friends, Paint Nite should definitely be an option. Best of all, you’ll leave with a cool painting you can hang in your home (or give to your mother to put on the fridge, like in your childhood days). I’m looking forward to creating my next work of art! Maybe next time I’ll actually buy a drink and see how my canvas turns out.