If you are planning a night out with friends, the chances are your socializing plans seem too predictable. Shake it up. Move the movies aside, put the restaurant meal to rest, and try a paint night. Where else are you able to hold a paintbrush in one hand and a cocktail or vino in the other? Whether it’s a private party, going solo or as a group, local paint nights can be a refreshing change from the ordinary.
Canvassing for Creativity
Although there are several franchise-based paint nights in the area, there are also some independent artists who have created their own businesses. Alexandra Reznik launched her business “Start Academy” in 2014, after teaching art to children and working for various school boards for many years. She earned her Bachelor of Education at Queen’s University and, like many budding entrepreneurs, she decided to go out on her own where the possibilities were endless. Now, in addition to teaching art classes to children ages 4 and up, she holds private paint night functions at her studio located on the corner of Main Street and Davis Drive.
“Anyone can be an artist,” Reznik says, “because we all see things differently.” Whether it’s a corporate, team-building event or a girls’ night out, Reznik customizes the subject matter for the evening’s participants. And while everyone will follow the same guided instructions, the end results vary from person to person. “Even if you’re painting the same thing, it never really looks the same,” she says. “That’s what I love. It’s amazing the results I’ve gotten, and the people are always amazed themselves.”
As adults, too often we squelch that carefree creative process. “The act of simply holding a brush or a pencil is very soothing – much more soothing than holding a tablet or touch screen phone,” says Reznik. Immersing yourself into the thought process of what’s happening on the canvas is relaxing. It’s a chance to let go of the stresses you’re facing in your daily life and connect to something deeper. “You can’t really put a word to the experience you’re feeling. Your brain goes into a different state when you’re concentrating [on your art], and you’re able to completely relax.”
Another bonus is being able to try your hand at painting without committing to a bunch of classes. A proffered glass of wine may also add a drop of mature courage; participants at Reznik’s studio are invited to bring along their own food and drink.
Make Friends, Make Art
As a refreshing way to socialize, paint nights with peers can compensate for the hold social media has over us. Start Academy offers a cozy and welcoming space where participants can safely step outside of their comfort zones. “People want to be in a social setting,” says Reznik. “They go to these events to socialize and have a real experience – face to face, human to human.”
In Reznik’s gallery, which holds up to 13 painters per class, it’s OK to make a mistake. “They’re small groups, so I’m able to help every single person in whatever way they need,” she says. “Everyone is working and doing their thing, but they’re still talking and goofing around. They’re really connecting.”
Paint by Numbers
Regardless of the theme or what it is you’ll be painting, your instructor will guide you step by step through the artistic process – with a break fitted in there somewhere to enjoy your glass of wine. “It’s all done in simple strokes,” says Reznik. “It doesn’t matter what you’re drawing – it’s how you combine the strokes together.”
At the end of the evening, guests walk away with a self-made piece of art to hang on their wall, and the memories of a unique experience shared with co-workers and friends.
While Start Academy books private groups, there are numerous paint night events hosted in restaurants and small businesses around town. Grab some friends or take time to go solo. Pick up a paintbrush, abandon your reserves, and see what develops on canvas and how it helps with your wellbeing.
by Becky Dumais & Charlotte Ottaway
Art Circle – Social Art
Aurora Cultural Centre