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Advice for Artists: Get Started with Paint Parties

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

Teaching paint parties is a great revenue stream to compliment your art business. If you love painting, people (and maybe a cocktail while you work) then it could be the right move. I started teaching adult "paint and sip" parties in 2017, and over the years, several artists have reached out for advice. I recently invited artist Leah Richardson, who teaches children paint parties, to join me for "Cocktails" and talk about her experience.

Leah Richardson, who's business name is Dream a Little Art, is a self-taught artist out of South Carolina who decided to pursue painting full time after the birth of her children. She loves creating expressionistic paintings full of color and texture like her beautiful marsh scenes. She decided to try her hand at paint parties after a client approached her about teaching one for her child.

She thinks children's parties are a great route to test drive the idea since there's not a ton of pressure to be perfect. She pre-draws the design onto the canvas and doesn't have any rules to follow - just have fun! Afterwards, she goes behind the child to fix trouble spots, add highlights and other fun details so the final painting really shines. She advises that five years old is probably the youngest you want to teach since attention spans are hard to hold for younger ones.

For adults, it's important to create a beautiful, yet simplified design and test painting it yourself ahead of time. And remember, what seems simple to you can feel complicated to someone who has very little painting experience. I've found that if it takes me 45 - one hour to paint it then the class with require about two hours to complete the project. This is an important step if you don't want to be there all night.

I first start by explaining my process, introduce the materials and then lead them step-by-step through the painting. Instead of a "just copy what I do" approach, I like to explain why I choose certain colors or use a certain stroke so that the student can learn along the way. I also tell the class that I'll be as "hands off" or "hands on" as they want me to be. If they want to go completely rogue, that's fine! Or if they want me to paint something for them then I'm happy to do it. The main thing is that they leave happy.

What does it cost to get started? Well, it's not as bad as you may think. Here are the typical items you need for a paint party:

  • A canvas for each student plus one for your demo

  • Paints (I try to limit to 7 colors for costs. Remember you can mix colors too.)

  • An easel for each student and yourself

  • Aprons to protect clothing

  • A variety of size and types of brushes

  • Water containers

  • Plastic tablecloths

  • Styrofoam plates (3 per person for adults) to mix colors

  • Paper towels

You can buy the canvas, aprons and brushes in bulk and look for sales on the paints and easels. Remember that the easels, water containers and aprons are one time expenses and don't need replacing like the other materials. The brushes will eventually need to be replaced but if you keep them cleaned then they should last a while. Overall, I try to keep my cost of the consumable materials to around $6-$8/person.

If you're interested in pursuing paint parties then watch our full conversation here or email me with any questions. And be sure to follow Leah on Instagram to stay in the loop on her new collection releases and special pricing on her paintings.

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