Published in the North Island Eagle, March 2017
By Trish Weatherall
A new social and creative outlet has swept across North America the past few years, and has made its way to North Vancouver Island. Painting parties, held in private homes (ala Tupperware and Mary Kay parties), or at local night spots or public venues, give regular people the opportunity to learn to create a piece of art in a comfortable social setting. The growing paint party trend brings a new avenue of income for artists, connects artists to the community, and lets anyone be an artist for the day.
“It’s a big draw as part of a trend of people looking for experiences and creating memories, rather than acquiring material things,” said Courtenay’s Foxglove Hollow Studio artist Anne Clarkson of her Paint with Me Classes. “It’s a real social thing, and a chance to try something you might love, in a no-pressure environment.”
Like the late 80s/early 90s afroed artist Bob Ross on his instructional TV program The Joy of Painting, painting parties provide step-by-step instruction, with an emphasis on having fun, and your own personal painting style.
“I take a lot from good ‘ol Bob,” said Clarkson of her Paint with Me Classes. “About it being ok to make mistakes, and his whole attitude about the journey and not the final outcome. It’s also about building a memory with a group of people, not necessarily becoming an artist.”
With no formal training, Clarkson is a natural artist and teacher, with an easygoing, light-hearted and encouraging manner. After showing her work at a craft show, and having several people ask if she taught painting classes, she started her Paint with Me business in her home-based Foxglove Hollow Studio in May 2016. Since then, she estimates she has held more than 100 parties, or about three or four per week, travelling all over Vancouver Island. (Clarkson’s North Island connection includes her daughter, singer Joey Clarkson, who provides Wild Heart Music’s Strength in Song program to several local schools, and performed recently in Port McNeill.)
This past Saturday and Sunday she offered two paint parties in Port Alice at the Sea View Activity Centre. Resident Rose Klein-Beekman organized the events, for the second time in the past year, to get people in the community involved in a fun activity.
“Last time we had 16 attend, and this weekend we had 33 participants over two days,” said Klein-Beekman. “It’s expanding because people are interested in doing something fun and social. It’s a mixed bag of age groups, from 16 to mid-80s. People are getting more involved and talking about the next paint party, and want to include a potluck and wine-tasting with it!”
At Sunday’s paint party, participant Rose Hickling, in her 80s, told Clarkson that she had come to prove a point and win a bet with her family saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But displaying her finished art, Hickling found out she was wrong. She had a great time and produced a nice piece of art.
Although paint parties seem to be most popular with women, Clarkson has instructed children, seniors, family groups, and has even hosted team team-building workshops for companies and organizations. “Each person does a piece of the painting on a separate canvas, with no idea what the final product will look like.” Their combined efforts together on the wall create the whole picture.
“I love my job!” said Clarkson. “There are lots of artists, and lots of teachers, but I hear from participants that I am an artist who can teach, and make it fun. There is a lot of laughing. And everyone walks out feeling really, really good. It’s confidence building.”
Other North Island communities have also jumped on board the ‘painting as social event’ movement. The franchise company Paint Nite hosts painting parties at bars in more than 150 cities world wide, including Port McNeill. The Campbell River branch of Paint Nite brought its paint party to The Rock Pub with artist Kim Newns in July.
Sporty Bar and Grill in Port Hardy has also hosted painting parties in the past year with local artist Sara Grover, which includes paints, canvas, instruction, appetizers, and fun, for a maximum of 12 participants.
“I heard it there was a demand for it, so I wanted to try it,” said Sporty owner Alfons Bauer. “Participants love it, have fun, and enjoy good food. We do it during the slower times of year. It’s about doing something fun for the community.”