Many artists have additional sources of income to compensate for the erratic nature of selling artwork. One of mine is teaching at Paint Nite. (This is one of those drink and paint events. Paint Nite sets up in various restaurants and bars. By making a reservation, attendees get everything they need to create a specific painting. The target picture is known ahead of time and is shown online when they select their night out. Paint, brushes, easels, a generous 16 x 20 inch size canvas, instruction and fun are included. Food and drink can be purchased from the venue.)
This is aimed at people who by their own evaluation are “not creative”, have “never” painted, or are worried that their 5 year old can out paint them. (Although there are certainly many people who are good painters too. And many people who return to improve their skills.)
Encouragement from all sides
I reassure them that the objective is not to reproduce a copy of the example painting but to accept their natural abilities and inclinations. My main job to make sure everyone has fun and is (at least somewhat) satisfied with their results. Most people have not painted since childhood and are apprehensive. (That is where the alcohol can help).
They were discouraged as children in the arts and can be critical of their own results. But Most attendees do come with a friend or a group who tend to be very supportive of each other even while being critical of their own painting. A common comment is “it turned out better that I expected.”
In fact, I encourage them to change the painting by using different colors or choosing elements to include or omit.
So how do I find someone else’s inner artist? How do I keep them from worrying about final result?
It is all about having fun. I go through step by step so they can just follow. I use humor to get them to relax. I keep insisting that this part doesn’t matter and we are not one yet. It is surprising how many people will obsess over the beginning stages of the background that may be mostly covered up by the time we get done.
And finally at the end, I show them what is good about their painting. If the are not happy with parts of it, I ask them to be specific so we can work on that (and so I do not start talking about improving the area of the painting that they may love!) I ask them to look at their painting from 10 feet back so they are not focused on different rush strokes. (No one looks at the Mona Lisa from 3 inches away!) And lastly, by having them get up and look around they can see all of the different interpretations (which is one of the fun results of these events). First, they can see there are many variations so their differences are OK too. And as much as they may get comparison envy, it is likely someone else will look at their results and give a compliment
My own personal bonuses
And although each event is a lot of prep, setup and clean up and documentation (for a two hour evnet, I actually spend about 7 hours), there is a lot that I get out of it.
First may be just being able to “work” in a happy environment. I get to experience the joy from people as they do better than expected. It gives me experience dealing with different abilities and teaching both to a group and to individuals. If I decide to ever give lessons (as opposed to fun events), I will be able to draw upon the reactions I get here.
It is also a growing experience which requires me to practice being encouraging, supportive and uplifting.
Oh and sometimes I do karaoke afterwards.
Rodgers image from ifunny.co
Thumbs up is an image of the Borat character created by Sasha Baron Cohen