Mixing Cocktails and Canvases

Tegan Thuss

Paint brush in one hand, alcoholic beverage in the other — these are the starting ingredients to a great night out.

Paint Nite introduces social art to the masses. Participants are asked to paint a blank canvas with either a reproduction that the instructor takes them through step-by-step, or their own imaginings. The event takes place in a pub or restaurant, where alcoholic beverages are available for purchase, since the motto is to “drink creatively”.

No prior painting experience is necessary to enjoy this evening out — just an oath pledged, with hand on canvas, that there will be no complaining, no judgement and each participant will try their best to have fun and enjoy the experience. Paint Nite was founded by Sean McGrail and Dan Hermann, after having attended a party where they painted and drank wine.

“In March 2012, we launched the first Paint Nite at Clery’s, a bar in Boston’s Back Bay neighbourhood,” said McGrail.

Since then, Paint Nite’s popularity has expanded significantly, having reached out internationally.

“Paint Nite is continuing to add new markets on a monthly basis. Right now, Paint Nite events are currently being held in 90 cities in the U.S. and 18 internationally, we expect that number will continue to increase as we sign on new markets across the world,” McGrail stated.

McGrail believes the idea continues to be popular because, “people are looking for something different than a typical night out at the bar — and Paint Nite provides that. Many find that they really enjoy embracing their more creative side, and decide to come back regularly.”

Social media has played an extensive role in getting the event off the ground, as more and more people take photographs of their evenings out and share them through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“People see the experience that their friends have shared, and want to learn more about it. Social media has also helped recruit licensees in new, untapped markets, which allows us to continue to expand,” said McGrail.

Licensee for Paint Nite KitchenerWaterloo, Erin Bunting does not have a degree in fine arts or a career in painting — in fact, she graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA). After graduating, Erin moved to Vancouver and was looking for something fun to do and a good way to meet people. She found Paint Nite and loved it. While looking through their Facebook page, Bunting noticed that they were hiring and she applied. After training, and finding her groove, she moved home to K-W and brought the experience with her.

“It’s an environment where people can come and paint and not be judged,” Bunting states. “This is just a social activity where people can come, they can eat, they can relax…they don’t even have to paint what I’m painting, they can throw paint on the canvas if they had a tough day at work.”

After having finished the reproduction, the most exciting part of the evening is noticing the uniqueness of each painting created. Knowing that the image is the same for most — it is interesting to see the different colour choices, texturing, and object placement, all of which emphasize the creativity of each individual painter. It also makes for a great take away, which can be hung proudly — and signed — in your home.