Thursday, August 21, 2014

Painting adventure

This has nothing to do with spray paint, cans of paint, or anything else to do with home projects!

This spring, my friend Kate invited me to a painting class advertised through Groupon. I've heard of these classes before—hosted at a bar or restaurant, a teacher guides participants through a painting exercise—but have never signed up for one and thought it sounded like fun. We booked our class through the company Paint at Nite, and after perusing the painting options and seeing how far ahead classes filled, we finally chose the mid-August "Love Birds" session at Lone Oak Grill in Eagan.

We chose our spots at easels near where the teacher would be working, put on our aprons, and got some refreshments. In front of each easel: a white canvas, three paint brushes and a plate with several blobs of paint: blue, red, yellow, white and black. The teacher introduced herself and walked the 25 or so people in the room through our oath/toast for the evening, which included promising to have fun and not grouch about your painting skills.

Then painting got underway! We started by creating a sunrise or sunset, and it was settled: I knew I was going to love this class. (I took some photos along the way to look back on the steps we took.)

We blended the sky and added little white clouds as we wished. One of the things I liked about this class was that even though we were all creating basically the same scene, people made different choices along the way. And our teacher encouraged that, too—she also said we were free at any time to go in a totally different direction and paint something else.

Then we mixed paint to make orange and added a lake.

Y'all know I love my craft projects, but playing with paint was totally new to me. I liked playing with the colors to find a blend I liked, and I liked covering the canvas with the paint and brushes. This part was very relaxing. Along the way, Kate and I were sometimes chatting and sometimes just painting (and sometimes doing both). The teacher would explain each step and offer tips (she was demonstrating on her own canvas) and then put music over the sound system while we painted.

We switched to black paint and made some mountains.

Then we made our branches, which was daunting (but less daunting thanks to the teacher's tips). I kind of wanted to pause because I liked the little sunset scene, but we all kept going:

Finally, we added the little bird, the setting (or rising) sun, and twinkly lights in the mountains.

My painting!

I knew the evening would be fun when we signed up, but because of the process from blank canvas to final result, I am more fond and proud of my little painting than I expected. Our teacher was great, the atmosphere was positive and funny and low-key, and it was a neat weeknight activity to do with a friend. I'd definitely try another Paint at Nite class in the future.

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