Media & Techniques

My Love-Hate Relationship With Social Painting Parties

If you haven’t experienced one yourself, I am nearly positive you’ve seen it on your friends’ facebook pages or run across it as a Groupon: those social painting parties are HOT right now! You know what I’m talking about, wine, friends, a canvas, and some kind of painting instruction.

As an art teacher, this sort of thing both delights me and enrages me. Here’s why…


I HATE these things because every picture I see shows the same painting in everyone’s hands. Don’t get me wrong, everyone looks happy with the results, but they are all the same cookie-cutter results! Couldn’t there be something more open-ended and just as rewarding…and with wine? I had to experience one for myself, and when I did it was eye-opening. No one made me follow the instructions. I was allowed total artistic freedom if I wanted. What I really thought about the whole time I was painting and socializing was, “This must be what second graders feel like.” There is an example and everyone wants his or hers to look like the example. Plus, sometimes we teach them that way. It was easy to find the wine as the best part of the experience.

However, I was slowly beginning to see some real positives in the experience. For example, everyone was having a great time making something. They weren’t just socializing or drinking together, this group was making something aesthetically pleasing. They may not have been going through the whole creative process, but they were certainly engaged in something that pushed them to the edge of their abilities and had a positive social experience around art. These are things that can really plant a creative seed and inspire people to try something new or change their perceptions of their own artistic abilities. That is pretty cool! Plus, have I mentioned there was wine?

In the end, I am still split on the social painting party issue. While the evening was enjoyable to most, it left me wanting more.

Have you ever participated in a social painting party? What did you think?

Did it have any impact on your teaching? 


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Sarah Dougherty

Sarah Dougherty, a visual arts curriculum coordinator, is a former AOEU Writer and elementary school art educator. She loves working with diverse populations to bring art into students’ homes, communities, and everyday lives.

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