September 21, 2014

A Mr. E Painting Party

(I share about how I do painting there is a lot of text.  If you want to just skip to the pictures...feel free!!! ha ha)

Friday I "taught" a painting night at a local church (the children's pastor is a friend of mine).  I wasn't too sure about the evening....because the group was going to be large (about 50 people) &  mixed ages (from 4 to 80).  Both of those factors can make such an event challenging.  However, the everything went amazingly well.....though crazy....and I would totally do it again!!!

I know that many feel "painting parties" & such are questionable.  I personally do not believe in a factory mindset to painting.  I want people to paint something that uniquely them....not a paint by number hack.  Several of you had asked on Facebook how I plan & lead such an event.  So let me share how I "do" painting parties. 

PRE-PLANNING -  You have to know how many (or close to it) people will be attending.  Canvas can be purchased on the fly...but that is not convenient or cost effective.  Every event I've done...I've known in advance about how many would be in attendance.  I was able to purchase canvas on sale or with coupons over time(so far I've gotten the best deals at Michaels when they have multi packs on sale).  Size matters...for a couple reasons.  Larger canvas are more expensive..don't come in large multi packs...and can not be completed in the time frame of a painting party!  Acrylic paint does not go on sale very often!  I search Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Jo-Anns, and Wal-Mart for the best prices.  Wal-Mart has been good for acrylic.  They have a large selection of pretty good prices.  I get the bigger bottles in my "main colors"...and a TON of small ones so there is a great deal of variety in the work!  

THEME- Depending on the wheres & whos....your painting party will most likely need a theme.  The past two I've done were fall themed.  Now a theme is good...because "non-artists" need some guidance.  However, you want to leave it open that there is choice & creativity.  I create stencils for the theme.  I feel that this is "enough" of a crutch for the truly fearful, but still forces them to think about composition, color, and completing!  

SETTING UP-  You want people to be able to work in groups so that conversation & sharing of progress is easy to come by.  So make sure your tables and chairs are close enough together to accommodate that, but leaves them enough room to work.  Have a central supply station.  Here you will place brushes, paints, paint plates, paper towels, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers(if they want to create a straight edge border), stencils...and anything else you might need.  I've started setting up my laptop and my iPad with Pinterest pulled up for those who might be "stuck".  I would ask the location where your having the party to provide cups or bowls for water.  

THE ACTUALLY PARTY-  My favorite part of the evening is telling everyone we'll not be doing step by step paintings...and that I will not be pre-drawing their canvas for them!! ha ha  You have to move them away from the factory method of painting parties..and empower them to create their own work of art.  Let them know the "crutches" you have for them....and that you will be walking around to encourage, inspire, and help!  Make sure to move around them room and talk to everyone.  Even if they seem like they have it going on.....ask them about their work and offer them help if they need it.  Don't spend too much time with one person...or one table.  Some people do need more encouragement than others....but you have a whole room to help!  
LISTEN-  I have so much fun at these events. People really open up.  It is like therapy.  I've learned amazing things about amazing people...just because I was willing to listen. Some people are sharing their fears and thoughts about art.  Some are sharing their fears and thoughts about life.  Just enjoy it.  Times like that are few and far between in our world.  Art has away of bringing out so much in people....WHAT A BLESSING!!

Well..I hope that helps.  If you have any more questions...just leave a comment.  

 At the end of the evening..this sweet woman came up to me and said..."Honey, thank you so much for this...I have leukemia...and to forget about my troubles for a couple hours has been wonderful!" 
WOW! There are no words!!!

This is my sweet girl, Margaret!  She always says she's an artist...just like daddy! 

Not everyone did a fall painting..and that was totally ok with me.  This teen loves Batman, and she wanted to do one of the characters.  It turned out super cool!!

This couple has 6 children!!!  They were so sweet...and the mom said she wanted to be an art teacher, but was told not to do it because there were hardly ever jobs for art teachers.

The dads ROCKED IT!!!  I loved seeing them get into their painting...what 
great role models for the kids!!!  


  1. That is AWESOME! I've turned down a lot of invites to the factoryesque painting parties. I've loved the idea of leading something like this whether it was for a church or a Professional Development with the other teachers at my school and I had no idea how I would go about it but this is totally it! I may need to get with my principal and see if we can work something out of our spring PD day I think it could be a great release for our teachers who are stressed over testing and spring observations.

  2. Have you ever run such nights for families through your PTO? I've been looking into ideas for an arts based family night with the PTO. This might be the route I take in order for multiple age groups to have success and be able to take a finished piece home at the end of the night. How long was your painting night?

  3. I love the variety that came out of this event! It's just like the classroom - providing enough "crutches" for those students that need it, but leaving it open enough for those who don't. Nice work!

  4. You're great. You offered all these people support and left the control up to them.

  5. Your post is timely. I've been wrestling with the idea of doing paint parties but have been hesitant because of what you refer to as factory painting. Your post has me rethinking. Thanks Mr. E