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A year and a half ago, my friend of 30 years moved from two states away to live four miles from my home. We have known each other since second grade, but this was the closest we had ever lived to one another.
We often spent time together when she first moved, but with the craziness of life with kids, work and community commitments, we now go weeks or sometimes much longer without seeing one another. Just before Christmas, we decided that it was time to have a girls’ night, and that the perfect activity for us would be to paint on canvas together.
In the ‘90s, and even now, a fun girls’ night activity was to paint pottery together. While that is still popular, the latest trend in outings is drinking wine while painting on a canvas. Franchises are going up around the country, and there are at least three locations in Louisville, including one at a local gallery. The businesses post calendars on their websites with the dates that certain images will be presented. Customers can choose the painting they want to attempt, and schedule their group for that evening.
Many franchises across the country allow customers to bring their own wine to share with their friends, but Kentucky state law does not allow BYOW. A wine vendor serves the wine for the locations in Louisville. The gallery serves fondue and other appetizers, while other locations serve snacks.
The image my friend and I chose to paint was an Impressionist-style painting of a couple walking under street lamps that are reflected on the water. Our fee covered the paint, the canvas and our snacks. An apron was provided, although I advise not wearing nice clothes. The instructor was an artist with a degree in fine arts. She had a completed copy of the painting on an easel next to her along with a blank canvas that she used to show us each step as the class went on.
The instructor explained technical art terms as they came up, such as perspective. The steps were simple and explained well, so that it was easy to follow her instructions. There was also room for variation as we went along, so that no two paintings were exactly alike.
We started by painting the entire canvas a solid color – dark blue in this case. Then the instructor explained how to lighten or darken different sections of the canvas to create the effect of a night sky illuminated by streetlights. Then she showed us how to measure distances on the canvas by using the metal tip on the paintbrush, or how to line up elements using the paintbrush as a ruler.
As the instructor went through the steps, I started wondering if this class was a good idea after all. I was having fun, and enjoying my evening out with my friend, but my painting looked so disjointed and not like a romantic scene at all.
Then I heard a click next to me, and looked over to see my friend snapping a picture of her painting with her cell phone. Seeing my questioning look, she said, “This gives you a better idea of what it looks like.”
So I grabbed my camera, and took a photo of my own painting. The colors looked blended together, and less like random blobs of paint. Every few minutes, I would take another picture, just to remind myself that the painting looked better than I thought it did.
When the class was over, I was impressed by how different all of the paintings were. We had all received the same instructions, and they were all variations on a theme, but no two were alike.
The trend of sipping wine while creating art and spending time with friends (or a date) is gaining in popularity. There are classes especially for children, and even Mommy & Me classes, where parent and child paint together on a single canvas (usually for ages 5-12). Some businesses have special date-night classes, with each couple painting two canvases that make a single picture.
The non-discounted prices range between $25-$45 depending on the size and style of painting and the business offering the class. Some businesses offer Groupons or Living Social deals occasionally, which makes it even more economical to try the concept out. Classes often sell out quickly, though.
I already have my next class scheduled, and I am working to set up more girls’ nights with my friends. My daughter and I would like to take a class together, as would my mother and I. The only dilemma I have is deciding where I will hang all of the canvases that I want to paint.