The water is murky with paint, my palette whirling chaos. My paintbrush flies across the canvas in wide, swooshing strokes that make me feel like a real artist. The contours of my vase aren’t exactly right; for a moment, I resist the urge to paint over it, to start again. I add some details to it, see if I can convince myself to accept the mistake, to go with it, but I can’t. I spend the next five minutes trying to fix it, and ultimately laughing in surrender, “I should have left it how it was.”
Next to me, Bryan is doing his first painting (ever? I think), leaning close to the canvas, his paintbrush held aloft in his hand as he carefully dabs white paint onto the edges of his flowers, adding highlights. “How do you do that?” I demand, incredulous and proud and a little jealous. “How are you just good at things all the time?”
We are at Paint Nite at Hudson’s in South Edmonton for my friend’s 25th birthday, an evening of drinking creatively, as the company slogan says. The premise is super simple: pick a painting that you would like to recreate from the long list of pieces that have been created just for Paint Nite, reserve your tickets, show up, get a drink or two, and follow the instructions to paint that painting. Voila! Easy peasy.
This was my second Paint Nite. I loved it the first time, and the second time was no different. I have been exploring my visual creativity more and more in the past year, and Paint Nite has been a great, low pressure way to learn new techniques and show myself what I am capable of achieving. The event itself is great: the instructors are knowledgeable and friendly, they know how to go with the flow when things go wrong (such as technology malfunctioning, because isn’t that what technology does?), and I always end up with something that I created at the end of it, even if it is not perfect. The only complaint I have is that both events I went to were rather squishy; the four of us were at one table, the backs of our canvases practically touching, my beer hidden behind my painting where I had to snake my arm around without disturbing said painting or any of my other supplies every time I wanted a drink.
Worth it, though. If you have any creative bone in your body (and let’s face it, all of us do!) then Paint Nite is a fun, casual way to dive into that and do some exploring. There are paintings for many tastes and ability levels, they take place in bars all over the city, and you can often find deals on LivingSocial and Groupon (tickets are generally $45 each). While you do receive detailed instructions, you are free to adapt them as you see fit, and it is a fascinating experience to see how everyone’s paintings turn out different despite being given the same supplies and instructions.
Have you ever done Paint Nite or an event like it? What did you think?
Disclaimer: I was not paid or perked for this post, I just really like Paint Nite!