Teen Paint Night

If you are signed up for Groupon, Living Social, or any other sort of discount-offering website’s email, you’ve probably been inundated with “Paint Nite” tickets.  Generally, the idea is that adults go have fun painting and drinking without any sort of grades or judgment.

I’ve noticed that after teens get over initial shyness, they are extremely happy doing kidlike things.  The most popular activities at my lock-ins are Duck Duck Goose and Sardines, for heaven’s sake!  They want the freedom to be a kid.  Art gives teens that outlet as well, but with far fewer chances of collisions and blood (would you like a post on this?).  So I wanted to do a Teen Paint Night without the alcohol, obviously.

Fortunately, one of my coworkers is an artist and taught art before working in a library.  I enlisted her help in running this program and entrusted her with the purchasing of supplies.  We ordered from Dick Blick and got some great deals on really nice products.  This is a bit of an investment, but good brushes and paints are things you can use for many different programs.  It also wouldn’t hurt to ask around at your library and see if anyone already paints: if you bribe them with cookies, they may let you borrow their brushes, palette knives, or other painting equipment.

For the program, you’ll need:
palettes (old tupperware works really well)
Canvases (your choice of size)
paints of your choice (watercolors or acrylics are easiest, as they don’t require a lacquer to set like oils would.  They dry quickly and are easy to use.)
water and containers

And that’s it!

We made sure that our posters went out to schools, and encouraged art teachers to hang them in our classrooms.  The teens who attended did so because their art teachers mentioned it to them, so that was a great promotional crossover.

My coworker and I debated doing themed painting or not, but we decided on more of a free paint session so they wouldn’t feel like they had to copy a famous painting or create something that didn’t appeal to them.  We got out lots of books on acrylics, composition, and painting techniques for reference.  I also purchased some sparkling grape juice to sub for the usual alcohol at these sorts of events, but as it turns out, our attendees didn’t like sparkling grape juice, so my coworker and I ended up drinking it.

We planned for a two-hour program, and it just flew by.  Once teens decided what they wanted to paint, a soothing silence descended on the room as they mixed colors, painted, and detailed.  My coworker offered a lot of helpful suggestions.  Suddenly, it was time to go, and no one wanted to.  That’s when you know they had fun!  We made sure to teach them how to clean up their space and wash brushes properly, and everyone left with a unique work of art.  One girl planned to give hers as a gift, which was very cool.

We’ll definitely be repeating this program in the summer.  It’s really wonderful for de-stressing and creating in a non-judgmental space.


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