Back in February, I was skimming through some 'Artists Wanted' ads, and came upon one for an instructor's position, in a bar/lounge setting, showing folks (adults only) how to make a work of art in under 2 hours.
I am generally introverted, unless I'm at the day job or of course around my people, where I can be a nut, and it's ok. This though...this is a whole 'nother thing. A learning and growing experience that landed in a nice package and it arrived right on time. I gave myself a pep talk, " Self, whats the worst that can happen? You get booed off the stage? Someone cries over their spilt acrylic water? God knows, you've been through tougher, and came out alive. You can paint. You can paint fast. You've done public speaking before. You can paint and speak at the same time. You got this! Do it!"
Yes!! I got this!!
I was asked to submit a painting using anything from their website as a reference. Done. I was then asked to assist 2 other artists at their events to see how it's run. I quickly discovered this is something that I would enjoy, albeit nerve wracking at first.
As the contracted artist/party host, I am required to pick up the truck load of supplies, and set up at one of the venues where 25-60 people will gather and mingle with their party hats on, and infront of them, each of the following: Easel, canvas, 3 different sized brushes, a plate with 5 colours of paint, a red solo cup to clean the brushes, and paper towel. (They buy their own food and beverages..the food typically cannot be squeezed in between the canvases, so they're SOL in that regard.)
I am also required to duplicate the painting a day or two before the event to use as an example to walk around with, and to do the steps to reach the desired effect of the painting on the website.
And I'm required to instruct 25-60 people to follow the steps to achieve the desired effect of this magnificent image bestowed before them in less than 2 hours. Through wine goggles. (Them, not me.)
This is a big deal to me. About 10 years ago, after filling up a sketchbook with portraits of various musicians, friends, and family members, I took a few beginner art classes, and quite honestly, I fell in love. I fell in love with how I felt while I was making something from my eyes to my brain, and out through my hands. As I toiled away in my home studio, the work became better with each piece; usually a portrait. Painting was an easy transition since I had an strong grip on portraiture, shapes and composition. Now 7 years later of doing something I'm in love with, I get to go to adulty type spots all over the city, and encourage a room of people to step out of their own comfort zone, and try something new. Something they might fall n love with. Something they may discover changes their perception of the ordinary. They also get to take home a beautiful piece of art to hang on in that empty wall in the kitchen.
For the most part, everyone seems to enjoy themselves, and many tell me they'll be back. They have a great excuse to get out of the house, spend time with their friends, S/O, co-workers, Tinder match, or what have you. They can unwind and make a something out of nothing. Paint Nite has a great business model, is a fabulous concept, and I wish I would've thought of it first.
The guests are emailed a survey to check on the overall Paint Nite experience, and to gain feedback on how we can improve the 'product'. This is the sharpest learning curve about it, for me. As a creative, we are generally touchy with critisizm. ("I'm an artist...and I'm sensitive about my shit." - E. Badu)
I am 17 events in, and each week I brace myself when I open up the survey results which sometimes (often) have a harsh report on the evening they had. Usually a complaint about the poor lighting (we're painting in a bar), or the lack of adequate parking, dirty bathrooms, or various complaints about things I have no control of. Then there are the things that I AM in control of: The timing of set up, the painting process, and colour mixing methods, and clear and efficient directions; the music playing, and the party atmosphere. And each week I hear about it. I'ts kind of like a weekly job interview. A few times, I didn't get the job.
I have learned that I need to use my mic everytime, and bring my own ipod dock so our Paint Nite guests can tap their feet to some some upbeat and 'popular' radio tunes. I have come to find out I need to give myself more time to prepare the venue, and be gentle when giving feedback. Someone said that I critiqued their painting everytime they went to the bathroom -which DID NOT HAPPEN! LIES!!
However, there are far more positive remarks about their experience with me. So many in fact, that I get the warm n' fuzzies. Those kudos, as much as they are flattering and I'm grateful for, don't teach me very much. They don't remind me of what I can improve on. They don't get under my skin, and make me wonder- how did I fail him/her?? I am also learning that you can't take anything personally. More importantly, you can't please everybody.
So every week, I get my own little Paint Nite committee to size me up which is in many ways, making me a better person.
I also get to spend 9 hrs a week with my awesome and gorgeous assistant, my daughter Jayda. I feel rich because of it. It's an excellent opportunity to expand my wings, change old ways, and develop my painting skills.
It's also opened up many doors for whats ahead. I'm so thankful I stepped out of my comfort zone to be in a position to inspire people to make things. Anything, with their own 2 hands.
Moral of the story: Stretch your own limitations. You'll be better for it.
Paint Night event at Central Social Hall, Edmonton, Alberta. -June 2015