The Sweet Secret Sauce of Paint Nights in Greater Newburyport

I’m a creative soul.

I taught myself to sew in 8th grade and have made everything from curtains to christening gowns.  I taught myself to knit just because I thought it would be fun.  Once, I taught myself how to reupholster a wing chair  thinking, “How hard could it be?”

Later on I redecorated an entire bedroom with thrift store finds, paint, hot glue, and a lot of imagination.  I am not afraid to take creative chances.  The exception however is I can not draw.  I just can’t – unless I have a glass of wine and  paint night.

Then I am pretty darn close to Picasso. 

What is it about the scrumptious combination of girlfriends, wine and paint brushes that releases our inner artistic genius?  Is it the laughter and the loosening of inhibitions and insecurities?  Or is it the reassurance of the artist that any great painting is a series of lines and circles?  If that’s the case, why can’t I paint a landscape at home?  Maybe it’s just the wine, but I think it runs deeper than that.

I think the answer lies in the fact that paint night meets one of the most basic human needs – socialization.

Fulfilling that one need makes us thrive.  We feed off each other’s energy and when that is positive, it makes us a better version of ourselves.  Not to psychoanalyze paint night too deeply, but there is something very elemental about it.  There is something magical that makes disparate, private human beings willing to take a risk to sit in close quarters and reveal the limits of their individual artistic skill.

Ever heard of art therapy?  It is used to treat people who have suffered trauma and helps them increase their personal stability and resiliency.  The basic principal of art therapy is that art creates a safe place in which patients can resolve conflicts, reduce stress and increase self-esteem.  Art therapy encourages interaction, sharing and trust.  Sound familiar?  Paint night is a form of art therapy and it works.

When you enter paint night you may be tired from work, weary from interpersonal problems or simply stressed from life.  When you leave, chances are good that you feel completely different – relaxed, easy, and perhaps lighter. De-stressed.

That is the power of art therapy, good friends and of course, a bit of good wine.

Last year I went to a birthday party at a paint night event and I absolutely ruined my painting.  I was feeling a bit too vulnerable and I didn’t quite understand the power of completing a painting that one could be proud of.

So instead of concentrating I fooled around, (my go-to defense mechanism).  I took a divergent road (that was too off subject) to create my own scene, and ended up with a mess.  Granted, a paint night masterpiece can be one notch above a velvet painting, but still, it is a relaxing and beneficial exercise.  My mistake was not taking the attempt seriously.  Still I had great time.

But, I’m not going to make the same mistake again.

Next time I have the opportunity to go to a paint night event at an organization like Artist Bar, Brushstrokes and Grapevines or Paint Nite, I’m going with my best attitude perched proudly on my shoulders.  I am going to pay attention and reap all of the insights that art therapy can provide.

Yes, I’ll laugh and joke around with my friends, but I am going to put in the work and do the painting justice.  I’m going to access my inner Picasso and in the process, find a calming outlook on this raucous world of ours.

Who knew a glass of wine and a paint brush could achieve so much?


Brushstrokes and Grapevines will hold a special event on Sunday, June 4, for Relay for Life-Amesbury’s Cancer research fundraiser.  Check out their calendar for June and July.

About Deborah Chiaravalloti

Deborah is a wise cracking writer with a quick wit who loves Newburyport, raised five children here and served as a VP at Anna Jaques Hospital. Her bread and butter is working as an international healthcare consultant and writer. Her philosophy in life is when all else fails- laugh- nothing else will see us through.

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