OK. So this lovely girl I met at the dog-park, who happens to be from Vancouver too, emailed me a Groupon link for Paint Nite in Ottawa a few weeks ago. It sounded a lot like Raw Canvas in Vancity (except at Paint Nite, you can sign up for different paintings on different dates, at different pubs across the city). The idea of getting to pick a painting of your choice (from easy to hard) is really ingenious, as it means you can pick something you like and also choose an evening and pub location that works for you. The other appealing part of the night, beyond the fact that you actually learn how to paint something with acrylics (rather than drunkenly smear oil paint on a canvas and call it “abstract” – not a reference to my experience at Raw Canvas at all, haha) is that you are allowed to drink and eat WHILE you are painting. I mean, that really is all kinds of awesome.
Needless to say, I bought the Groupon (50% off = $25 total), partially as part of my “Happiness Project” (i.e. do one creative thing a week) and partially because I admired the friendly “go-getter” attitude of this girl I had only met twice. She had already invited me to a beading night that I unfortunately could not attend so I figured this time, I’d say yes!
The Paint Nite we chose was on Wednesday night in the Market at Pub 101, and the painting happened to be “hard” (yikes, what had I gotten myself into!?). The reason we signed up for this one was because these Paint Nites were filling up SUPER FAST (and actually, right now they are all sold out until July! Talk about getting popular quickly).
This is an overview of how the night went and what you can expect:
Arrive, grab a drink and head on upstairs (in this case, we had the whole upstairs – other establishments may be laid out differently). Get a friendly greeting, an apron, and choose your seat at one of the tables (covered with a cloth, setup with an aisle, canvas (16″x20″), a paper plate with blobs of primary acrylic paint colours waiting to be used, two paintbrushes, a cup of water and paper towel).
Chat, laugh nervously about how you haven’t painted since grade 3, have a drink to ease your nerves (this is literally a play by play of my pre-painting behavior). Realize slowly, as you look around the pub, that people are here to have fun and it’s really not scary at all.
Watch, as the instructor is working on the painting at the front of the room, ever so casually, drink in one hand and iPhone in the other (with the picture of the original painting on the screen so that it could be replicated here).
Paint, for two hours (or in our case – three) with a few breaks here and there to stand up, walk-around, chat, and let your paint dry.
Finish (whatever that means – because with painting, you could easily keep going and going, and loose yourself – trust me!), get your picture taken with your friends and your paintings, have a friendly bartender offer plastic bags to cover your works of art as you walk home in the rain and smile to yourself because you’ve done something creative AND social, you haven’t thought about work for 3 whole hours, and it’s a Wednesday night! How fun are you??
The instructors (who are trained artists, but are casual about it, very approachable, and clearly having a great time) guide you step by step through the painting until you’ve created your own version of what’s at the front of the room. They literally go through every step (e.g. paint entire lower portion of canvas green, draw white trees, starting here and here, etc.). There’s a real feeling that everyone’s there together – jokes are made, there’s laughter, encouragement and compliments given all around (as well as self-deprecation in my case), and drinks are definitely imbibed. There were certainly some artists there (I was flanked by two – the girls I came with!), a few couples on dates, a table or two of girls who seemed to be enjoying time away from their young ones at home (maybe a birthday or stagette?) and overall, a mixed bag of people. I’d say the room was half male, half female and ages ranged from 20 to 50.
The pair that taught us (we were the second Paint Nite group ever in Ottawa – the first taking place the night before) were from Toronto. There were 5-10 artists being “trained” that evening and watching, so they could carry on the Paint Nite tradition for the next few months. If you want to read more about it, here’s the link: http://paintnite.ca/pages/events/index/ottawa/#date:1
I will 100% be going again, and am already excited for it … It’ll just be a matter of getting a reservation! Check-out the list of dates and pubs, and see if there’s one in your area. The Paint Nite coordinators are interested in feedback to find out if there are preferred locations (e.g. a pub in Kanata that is popular) so I’m sure you could always email the contact person to give your two cents if there’s nothing in your neck of the woods.
That’s all for now, folks. Try Paint Nite. It’s $25 with the Groupon (still for sale) and you get hours of fun, plus a take-home painting. That’s a wild deal, in my opinion. A few photos for your enjoyment 🙂