I recently had the opportunity, owing to the generosity of an artistic friend who gave me a gift certificate, to spend a pleasant evening at the Paint Factory in Hutchinson.
I had heard numerous comments about the place previously, but this was my first visit.
The concept behind the Paint Factory is simple. People sign up for a class, spend a couple hours painting and listening to music with a bunch of other people, and, take home a completed painting at the end of the evening.
Anyone, even those who have never picked up a paintbrush before, can have fun during these sessions.
The instructor walks the class through the process of creating the selected painting, explaining each step in detail.
A completed version of the painting is on display so aspiring artists can see the objective from the beginning.
Prospective painters register for each class based on the photo posted on the calendar on the company’s website.
The title of the painting we did in my class was “Northern Lights Lake.” I chose this session because it reminded me of northern Minnesota.
When students arrive at the studio, they receive a selection of brushes needed for that session, and a pallet which they then load with paint based on instructions provided.
Aprons are also provided.
Initiates then take a seat in front of a prepared canvas (some classes paint on other materials).
A festive atmosphere prevails, as painters with a wide variety of experience levels prepare to take an artistic journey together.
Beverages are available at the bar for those who want to take the edge of their apprehension, or simply add to the fun.
Many people attend with a friend or group, but plenty of people go on their own.
Nervous neophytes are encouraged to enjoy themselves.
Colors are mixed right on the paper-lined tables, which adds to the informal feel of the class.
Between instructions, there is lively music to add to the party atmosphere. At one point during my class, this led to a spontaneous sing-along to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
The time flies by as students watch their creations emerge before their eyes.
At the end of the class, each student has a finished painting to take home and hang on the wall.
What I especially like about this class format is that everyone participates.
Often, it seems we get our entertainment by watching others, and passive entertainment has its limitations.
In contrast, when we engage in active entertainment, such as a session at the Paint Factory, we get a bonus. We have the pleasure of an evening (or an afternoon) out, and we also get the satisfaction of creating something we can keep.
We learn, think, and get our hands dirty along the way.
The enjoyment lasts long after the class is over.
It’s true that students are following instructions and creating a version of a sample painting, but each student mixes his own colors and makes his own decisions about how to apply the paint to the canvas.
About 60 students attended the class I was in, and no two finished paintings were exactly alike.
The point is not to create a masterpiece. It is all about enjoying the process and learning or practicing a skill.
This is true with any class, whether it involves art, cooking, dancing, or anything else.
We take classes is to increase our knowledge and expand our horizons.
Whenever I look at my painting of the northern lights lake, I remember the fun we had that evening.
I also learned some techniques I can use in my painting, which will help me in the future.
For me, painting provides a creative outlet that is different from what I do every day.
Working with paint is a humbling experience. Painting pictures with words comes naturally to me, and I can make language do what I want it to do, but drawing and painting are another matter entirely.
I can visualize what I want to create, but reproducing that image on a blank canvas is challenging and exhilarating.
Any time we take advantage of an opportunity to exercise our brains and develop our skills, we get the bonus of a feeling of accomplishment.
When we immerse ourselves in active, rather than passive entertainment, it changes us in positive ways. That doesn’t happen very often when we sit around watching other people have all the fun.