The joy of paying to paint
You’ve seen the memes, you’ve seen the Instagram posts. Paint Nite. Women clad in plaint-spattered aprons pose before their landscape paintings, a paintbrush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. All for the low cost of… $40??? Yes, that’s right. Paint Nites can cost anywhere between $30 and $80.
Who was willing to pay this? I thought. And why?
I thought to myself, who better to ask than the source, the direct target of such enterprises: the middle-aged suburban mom. My mother, to be exact, and, of course, her scrapbook-loving, book club-going friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my fair share of scrapbooking as a kid— and still partake in craft-making and collaging whenever I get the chance. Reading still remains one of my favourite hobbies, despite it being hard to make the time in my schedule to physically attend a book club. However, I enjoy following along with Drawn & Quarterly’s selections (the True Reads Book Club is a favourite of mine) from the comfort of my home, the bus or wherever I get a chance to read a few pages at a time.
What is it about organized creative events that have become known as activities intended for middle-aged women, specifically of the suburban variety? I’ve wondered this since my childhood. Picture a snowy weeknight in the early 2000s, in Greenfield Park, situated on the South shore of Montreal. Nothing is happening, which was quite ordinary for a primarily Anglophone borough with a population of less than 20,000. My mom would head out the door, tote bag in tow, to go scrapbooking with friends. Being seven years old, the idea of getting together with friends to eat and chat, cut out pictures and paste them on colourful craft paper was incredibly exciting.
Turns out, it actually is this exciting for middle-aged women and young adults, alike. Paint Nite, like scrapbooking club or book clubs, is usually led by one person who provides guidance for the duration of the session.
While artists create art to make a living, others make art to take a break from it. “[As a mother,] and between work, groceries, cleaning and everyday life there’s absolutely no time to get creative,” said Giuseppina Reminiscenza. A single mother of two (my mother, to be clear), she began partaking in social art activities in the early 2000s, after the birth of her two kids. “To expand our social life, we get together with friends and use this opportunity to get creative… it’s me time,” she added.
For young adults, alike, artmaking in a social setting is a chance to unwind and connect with loved ones. “I think making art with friends is always uplifting and happy, whereas sometimes by yourself, you might express yourself more deeply, it’s more personal,” said Nyomie Pandolfini. Between working full-time and attending class, taking time out of her schedule for herself is rarely an option. “Making art brings me to a calming emotional level, it’s therapeutic.”
So maybe, you too should try it. Grab a paintbrush, some drinks and a friend or two and, in the words of Bob Ross, “You too can paint almighty pictures.”
Graphic by @sundaeghost.