Posts Tagged ‘paint party’

I was out of work, my day job had gone away and I was trying to figure out where I was headed and looking for some work along the way when i saw a listing looking for something called a “Master Artist.” Well I didn’t really know that it was and Rembrandt is a master artist, not me, but it had artist in the title so I decided to investigate. It turns out the listing was a for a paint party service. As part of the application process, I went to be a participant in a paint party and had a great time but I also had a thought. I could do this myself. So I rounded up some easels and some supplies and started to do a few here and there and I found it was fun. One of my life missions is to help people embrace their creativity and this seemed a great way to do it.

Fast forward, I find myself accepting a call to be an interim pastor. I wondered how would a paint party work as an outreach/fellowship opportunity for the church. Well we tried one and we were so pleased with the results that we have been doing them ever since.

I started by coming up with a simple painting that I could teach others how to paint in about an hour-90 minutes and then publicized it to the church, making flyers they could hand out to their friends featuring the picture they would be painting. We set up tables in our fellowship hall with easels, brushes and paint for each participant. We also posted a sign up sheet so we would have at least a rough idea of how many people were coming.

The event itself lasts two hours. I start off with a few rules. Most of these are humorous, just to remind the people that we are there to have a good time and to set their minds at ease. Then I just teach the painting step by step. About half way into the party, we take a 15 minute or so break to talk, look at each other’s work and let the paint dry. We did the first one as a free event and started charging a small amount to cover materials after that (less than a third of what the commercial painting parties charge). The people also bring snacks which are hared throughout the night.

I find everyone ends up laughing together and having a great time and it’s a great way to build community. There’s no high pressure evangelism with this. I usually just plan on painting in my service the following Sunday and invite the people to come and see what I do. We’ve had a few people actually take us up on that, which was nice. Also it seems that everyone who comes, comes back and many bring a friend with them. This has been a great way to get to know people and open doors to the church.

This is my latest painting for use in my paint parties. I love doing this stuff, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Is it the best I can do? Not really, but I’m not designing for me. I am designing something that people may not paint all the time. I need to come up with something that a novice painter can do in two hours, and this is the most important part, while having a great time. I really enjoy making art and the big thing is I want others to start enjoying making art.

When you do a design, no matter what you’re designing, it’s important to consider who you’re designing for. I always think back to my first year art directing musicals at a local high school. In the first year, I designed everything in such a way that the only one who could do most of the work was me. The stuff came out pretty nice but I was stressed and the kids didn’t have that much fun. The following year I designed with the kids in mind and we all had a great time and we came up with something that was at least as good.

Of course in our commercial projects, considering the client in our design is urgent. Regardless of what we create, considering the end user is huge. Let’s draw as many people into creating as we possibly can.

paintpartysunflowers111There are a lot of artists who take themselves way too seriously. If you’re starting to feel that way I would like to do you a favor today. I want to give you a friendly reminder… Are you ready? Art is supposed to be fun. It really is. That’s why you started to love it, remember. You started to realize that this thing called could help you make the world see what was going on inside your head. You could create things that never existed before. You probably started off copying logos or cartoon characters or maybe sketching stuff that was around you. That was a blast. I can still remember sketching out rock band logos on my classmates notebooks and realizing that this was the one thing I could do that people actually thought was cool and it was fun. Then after a while you start to realize you don’t have to copy. You could make up your own stuff. You could design things for other people.

Then somewhere along the line, we get serious. Maybe it’s because you have so many people telling you you can’t make it as an artist and you want to prove them wrong, or you start getting paid and the next thing you know you’re crunching deadlines and somewhere in there it stops being fun. Now please don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with getting paid, but don’t lose track of the fact that this is supposed to be fun.

I’ve been posting about paint parties for the last week or so and i just got done doing one. We painted a couple sunflowers with a group of 24 mostly novice painters. It’s always about the same, they start a little nervous and then they start getting into it, and you know what my main job is, Above teaching them to paint the picture, and laying out some basic techniques, the main job is to keep it fun, and it is fun. I think the main thing is the pressure is off.

Every once in a while I think we all need to be reminded of this fact. It’s supposed to be fun, if it stops being fun, find a way to make it fun. Drudgery and creativity rarely peacefully coexist. Do something that helps you find the fun. Here’s a hint. It often involves helping someone else find the fun.

Remember, art’s supposed to be fun.

MASTERPIECEPOSTERI’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.

vangoghs-heartAs promised here are sort of the nuts and bolds of doing a paint party. I went out and bought some simple table top easels. I got them on sale at Michaels and ended up paying about $10 a piece for them. If you watch for the sales you can do really well at Michaels. I bought 20 over the course of a few weeks. I also get my canvases at Michaels. I use standard 16×20 canvases that they sell in a five pack for around $20. Again sales and coupons and sometimes make this less expensive. I also know A.C. Moore sells a paint party pack of 20 canvases. I find that if the group is too much larger than 20 it’s hard to give people the attention they deserve.

schneemanAs far as paint goes, I buy the quart jugs of acrylic they sell at Michaels or A.C. Moore for around $10. I use five colors, the primaries, plus black and white. I give each participant three different sized brushes, small medium and large, the large being about an inch wide, but of course this will vary depending on the piece. I use styrofoam plates and I put the paint on the plates in advance. This allows me to have some control on the “portion sizes.” People can really waste paint if you don’t do this. I also put out one water jar for every two people.

masterpiece3In developing my paintings, I work them up in advance. I will usually work out a painting I like and then go back and redo it step by step to figure out how I will paint it. Once I have that worked out I photograph it and add it to my website. I then made up a blank poster format for each of my paintings so when I book one, I can add their information and send a pdf so that they can print and use them to publicize their party.

As far as what to charge. That is on a case by case basis. I know my rough costs to do a painting and I add to that what I need to make all the work make sense. I will usually do a per person charge and I set my rate low enough that the person hosting the event can add a little on to earn some money for a cause, etc. This gives them some incentive to promote the event. I also have a flat rate if they just want to pay for the event outright. Of course this includes a limit to the number of people.

masterpiece2You’ll need a large enough room to house the amount of people signed up. I highly recommend that this be an uncarpeted room as people will occasionally drop brushes, etc. You also want to make sure that the people have some elbow room if possible. You will need tables and chairs and the tables should be covered. it is also wise to tell people to wear older clothes or to distribute aprons. Acrylic paint does not usually come out of clothes very well.

Those are the logistics. Next time we’ll look at the teaching aspect.

There are times when this question is asked in anguish. This isn’t one of those times. This time it just comes out of a mild frustration. Yesterday I shared about the struggles with creating a painting for the context of a paint party. I shared this to deal with the importance of the context of our creativity, i.e. why are we creating and for whom? But there’s something else that really gets my goat and makes me ask, “Why, God, Why?”

Here it is. The painting that became the black canvas was beautiful in my mind. It would have been one anyone, at least anyone who likes that genre of art, would have loved to hang on their walls. I could see it clearly, the issue was, I could not make my hands create it. Somewhere in the 40 inches between my brain and my right hand (approximately) something got lost in the translation. It’s the great frustration for me in art. I can’t always seem to make something look as beautiful as it is in my head. “Why, God, Why?”

There’s only one conclusion that I can come to and I share this to hopefully alleviate your frustration. Here it is, are you ready? Nobody’s perfect. We’re not yet perfect. We will be in heaven, but we;re not in heaven yet. Here on earth, things get lost in translation, but maybe that’s okay. The fact that I can’t always capture what I see in my mind will name one of a couple things happen:

First it might make me give up on the piece. I’m not a fan of giving up, but let’s face facts. We creatives get a lot of ideas, but they’re not all good ones. Sometimes a failure is a way of showing us it’s time to let it go in for of an idea that will be more successful and work better. Don’t let a failure make you give up all creating, but sometimes it’s okay “paint the canvas black” and start over.

Look for the lesson. In this case, a failed painting inspired not one, but two blog posts that will go out to a world wide audience and hopefully help a few people to realize they’re not the only one who has these struggles.

It might make you press on. Sometimes the idea is really inspired and the frustration of not being able to actually make it happen forces us to try harder–to practice more—to develop out gifts until we can make what we see in our heads into reality.

The point once again is that failure is not fatal. We can always learn from our mistakes and move forward. The answer to the question, “Why, God, Why?” is not always apparent, but, especially in the case of our creative endeavors, there is a reason and it is a good reason because God is always good. In the case of my failed painting, I wasn’t that attached to the idea so when it crashed and burned, I was more than willing to let it go. It’s not a paint party idea, at least for now. I may try to render it as a drawing, or a piece of digital art, maybe even a coloring page where it can be more successful, but for the moment, I’ll doodle a little sketch to come back to it later and I’ll move on to what’s next.

Speaking of what’s next, I’d imagine my paint is dry enough to finish the piece and see if this one makes it or if I’m back to the drawing board. Creating is not always easy, but God is always good. Remember that and create something great today.

It took me about an hour. It didn’t start as a black canvas. No, it was supposed to be a new paint party painting. You see I’m doing a painting party on Saturday night for a nice church in my area. I have a few standard paintings that I do in paint parties. They are paintings I know I can paint and teach in the allotted time. They are easy enough that most people can pull them off and have something they are proud of, or at least happy with, when they’re done. This time however the person bringing me in wanted a different design.

Before I go any further, this is not a complaint about the client. What she wanted seemed easy enough. She even sent me a couple of pictures from Pinterest to inspire me. These spawned some pretty unique ideas in my mind. They were quite different from what she showed me but I was confident she would like it, and I set about to make what I was seeing in my head into a reality. I couldn’t do it. About a half hour into the process, I began to see that what I was doing was far too complicated to teach and quite frankly it was kind of ugly. I kept going. Paintings, like most people, go through an awkward stage at different points in their development. I thought maybe this one was salvageable. But around the hour mark, I started to realize it was going nowhere.

First of all for me to teach a painting in a two hour session, I have to be able to paint it myself in 45 minutes to an hour. I’m a confident, experienced artist and most of the people in the pant parties are not. I charge in, they’re usually tentative. A painting that wasn’t finished at about the hour mark is probably not going to fly. A painting that is still “awkward” at that point in time will not be fun for anyone else. So I did what I always do when a painting is dying on the easel. I smooth it off and paint it black. It’ll end up being used for a live painting at my church at some point in the future. (Canvasses are too expensive to waste.)

Why do I share this? The context you’re working in matters. Had I had hours and days to work on that painting to hang on someone’s wall, I’m confident I could have made it a gorgeous piece that someone would have loved. The thing is, I’m not making a masterpiece here. I am making a piece I can teach to a group of people in two hours or less and it wasn’t working. It would do me no good to try to tweak it to make it “pretty.” I had to do something that was a little more accessible. My goal in these paint parties is to help people to have a good time and relax–to remove the fear a lot of people have about making art, in hopes that they will enjoy the process.. Further, I hope that some will discover a love for painting and develop their own gifts. For that reason, I went back to the Pinterest examples to inspire a different take and tried again. As I write this, I am waiting for the paint to dry on that piece so I can do the final details. I’m not sure I am happy with this one either, but I think when the details are done, I’ll be happy. Otherwise it’ll become another black canvas. I hope not.

When you’re creating, the context for which you are creating is huge. Keep that in mind as you work. Time is precious and sometimes black canvasses take a long time to paint.

Hey everyone. I’ve started to do paint parties as a way of helping people to have fun while embracing their inner creative. Here are the designs I am working on so far. Keep checking back for more.

sunflowerspaintparty 12-10
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Masterpiece paint nights are not art classes, they’re a night of creative fun.
They make great fundraisers and a nice add on event to one of my speaking presentations.

Contact me for rates and information.

Want to have a paint party? I can help you out with that. Great fundraiser or just a fun activity for the whole family. People get two hours of instruction and come away with a 16″x20″ acrylic painting they can take home. It is fun, interactive and entertaining. Here are two of the designs I am offering. If you’d like to have a paint party for your organization, please contact me.

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MASTERPIECEPOSTEROne thing I have found that I really love to do is get people painting. As my regular readers know part of my mission is to get people to embrace their creativity. I’ve started doing painting parties and I’ve found that it is a great way to get people to create. I’ve done two so far and I will be doing another one at Anytime Fitness in Hamburg, PA on November 4.

If you’re not familiar with a paint party. Everyone creates the same painting as I give them step by step instructions. For some it’s just a fun night out and there’s nothing wrong with that. For others I can just see the walls come down as people see they actually can create and express themselves and there can be tremendous healing in that. Art can be very therapeutic and I love being a part of that.

I sometimes wonder why more people don’t make art. My guess is they got a bad grade in art or someone told the they weren’t very good. It’s tragic. For every artist that makes it into galleries and museums there are thousands of people who would just benefit from getting what’s going in inside them, out. Art is a great release. Of course the other benefit is, I am virtually convinced that everyone can make something that will touch someone else’s heart. The ability to bless others can be of huge benefit to the artist as well as the one receiving the blessing.

I call my paint parties Masterpiece Paint Nights. It’s not because I expect people to create masterpieces, so much as I want them to know they are a masterpiece, a one of a kind original creation, capable of doing great things in our world.

If you’d like to bring me in to do a Masterpiece Paint Night at your venue, you can contact me at or click here.