Paints and Pinot: Why adults are heading to their local bars for art lessons


(Credit: Paint Nite)

If you’ve got a Facebook account, chances are you’ve seen photos of your friends holding up works of art that they’ve painted — often with wine glass in hand. Since Paint Nite launched in Canada, in June 2013, people across the country have been discovering the joy of painting with a little liquid inspiration on the side.

These unique guided painting sessions offer adults the rare opportunity to paint without fear of judgment. The events are held in restaurants and bars, and the atmosphere is more like a party than an art class. Even if you have no painting skills whatsoever, you can still attend a Paint Nite session.

“It’s a no-experience-required event,” said Manda Brownrigg, a Paint Nite licensee who is also an artist and instructor. “Our paintings are chosen on what somebody who’s never picked up a paint brush can do in two hours, that they’re really going to impress themselves with.”


(Credit: Paint Nite)

Each Paint Nite session is instructed by a local artist, like Brownrigg, who guides the group through the steps involved in recreating a painting. The sample paintings are usually impressive, and can be intimidating at first, but by the end of the session everyone leaves with a beautiful piece of art.

The popularity of Paint Nite appears to be part of a growing movement to promote adult creativity – a trend that can have a very positive affect on our mental well-being.

“I think adult colouring books, art therapy, and paint nights are all tying into this bigger picture that art can be for anyone,” said Kim Abramowitz, an Art Therapist from Toronto who has run painting sessions for her clients. She says that anyone can benefit from engaging in art, as long as they are interested in being creative and expressing themselves.

Abramowitz also says that you don’t have to consume alcohol in order to enjoy a painting session, although it can help create a social atmosphere.

Regardless of whether you choose to consume alcohol or not (apparently about 30 per cent of Paint Nite customers opt not to), the fun and relaxed atmosphere is usually enough to make customers lower their inhibitions and create a really good painting.

Brownrigg says that the experience is usually so positive, that at the end of most sessions people are excited to sign up for another one.

“I mean, it’s not like an art class where you’re committed all the time,” said Brownrigg. “You get to come, and you don’t have to buy your own supplies, and someone else cleans up for you. [Customers] discover that they can make something and they want to do it again!”

Courtney Osgood, Manager of Paint Nite’s Global Public Relations, says that it’s not uncommon for people to come out two or three times, although some people visit the events even more frequently.

“I’ve actually met a couple that attended 28 Paint Nite events together,” said Osgood. “I asked them why they keep coming back, and they said because it’s fun and they follow one of the local artists here in Boston.”

Some customers become so attached to an instructor that they will attend every session that they conduct. Other customers end up attending multiple sessions because they want to come with different people.

“The first time I went I just took my mom and she loved it,” said Natalie Land, an elementary school teacher from Ontario. “The second time I went with about ten of my friends so it was a huge group thing, and the third time I went with my family again.”


Natalie Land and her family show off their Paint Nite masterpieces (Courtesy of Natalie Land)

Land says that while the party atmosphere is fun, she really enjoys the painting aspect of the events.

“It’s different,” she explained. “You don’t get that opportunity to sit down and paint a picture as an adult. So, I really enjoy them.”

What’s another great thing about Paint Nite? You can always buy admission tickets on sale.

“I used Groupons every time, so it was twenty-five bucks per person,” said Land. “Even when you go, they give you a code for half off next time, so I don’t think anybody pays full price.”

Paint Nite is held in 17 cities across Canada. To find an event near you, visit