I’ve been over some of the details of paint parties, but what about the paint party itself? How do you lead the party? Well first of all every leader is different and you kind of need to find your own style. One thing you could consider is for every experienced artist that shows up at one of these things there are probably 20 that are inexperienced and maybe even a little nervous. One of our jobs is to disarm that a little. Many people think they can’t make art and we are here to prove them wrong. I usually start off with some humorous rules such as this is not art class, you won’t be graded, it’s okay to learn from your neighbor but don’t compare your work with theirs. I usually make some comment about art is in the eye of the beholder, throw in something about the variety of work that is in museums, etc. By the time they pick up their brush I want them to be laughing and happy or at least relaxed.
Next, always display a finished copy of the painting from the beginning. This will help the people to see where they’re going to end up. It also helps them if they get stuck or if they want to move ahead. I also don’t limit them. If they want to do something different, even completely different, that’s okay, I just tell them I may not be able to help them. There can be a lot of freedom in this. I also remind them that if they mess up acrylic is very forgiving and if they let it dry they can take over.
In the teaching itself, I find it best to go step by step and make sure everyone is ready before I move forward. I will sometimes say you’ll want to work a little faster here if there is something that has to be blended while still wet. I tend to keep the steps pretty simple and I always try to program a break into the evening where they can take a break and let the paint dry a little bit. At the end I always have then sign their paintings and I try to get photos of the people with their finished products. Over the course of the evening I mingle a lot. This helps me to tweak my teaching and adjust what I’m doing.
Remember this is not art class, this is supposed to be fun and if we do it right, it might just set someone on a new creative course in life. This will give them the ability to express themselves creatively and may even lead to something more. Keep it fun. Keep it light. Be a blessing.