Paint Nite Hampton Roads
There are several ways artists gain inspiration when preparing to paint: observe their surroundings, reflect in the beauty of nature, look inside themselves for a new sense of creative purpose ... and when all else fails—drink.
Tonight I’m skipping the traditional approaches and going straight for the drinking with a class full of amateur artists for Paint Nite, a social painting experience that’s held at various bars and restaurants throughout Coastal Virginia.
I arrive at Virginia Beach’s Surf Club Ocean Grille, check in, grab a bright green smock and a seat next to my painting pal Kerry. Everything we need is provided: a 16-by-20-inch canvas, two paintbrushes, a cup of water to dip in and the selected paint colors for tonight’s masterpiece. Once we’re settled, a server comes in to take our drink orders.
A few sips of my Young Veterans’ Pineapple Grenade, and I’m ready to begin. But first, our host for the evening, Krystal Kerns, has our class of 40 repeat a very serious oath:
“I promise not to throw my canvas across the room, not to bitch and moan, not to use the words: ‘Mine sucks,’ ‘Yours sucks,’ ‘I messed it up,’ ‘I can’t do this,’ ‘Can you fix it?’ Instead, I will relax. I will have fun, and most of all I’ll drink creatively.”
After a good laugh, we all take a nice, long encouraging sip of our beverages and listen for the first direction. Our painting project for the evening is two love birds sitting on a wire with bursts of colors raining down behind them. Kerns instructs the class which colors to start with and the specific technique we should use to achieve the best paint drips. After giving us the initial guidance, she turns music on, enhancing the carefree atmosphere.
Once in awhile Kerns stops the music to give directions, and then she turns the music back up, giving us a chance to talk among our friends or just vibe with the tunes—far from a stuffy classroom experience. Not surprisingly, the more sips I take, the better my painting appears.
Once everyone is done, Kerns encourages us to walk around the room to examine the completed projects. I’m amazed to see that each one is a little different as people have added their own unique characteristics in the paintings. Some birds are owls, some wires are branches, and some birds are decorated with top hats and bows (that one’s mine). As it turns out, this is what Kerns had hoped for all along. “It’s very interpretive,” she explains. “If everybody did exactly what I did, then I would have failed. I don’t want you to replicate what I do; I want you to have a good time and be an artist for an evening.”
Visit PaintNite.com to choose the date, location and art piece that intrigues you.