Three months into the season, I was lucky enough to meet a woman (my neighbor! Well, here’s how it happened: a man living on opposite coasts from his wife—because he firefights out West in the summers—hosts a neighborhood crawfish boil here on their anniversary, a Tuesday. I happen to go to this weeknight event, La Croix in hand, and end up sitting next to my neighbor. She’s hilarious and brilliant and kind, and why am I only now meeting you?) who a few days later invites me to a painting night with some other women nearby.
A few weeks later we do another. And another. Hosts change, materials change, the instructional YouTube videos change, but we always bring tea and laughter.
Here’s a roundup of the “Art Nights” we’ve had, should it inspire playful creation for you:
I only took a photo of one of my paintings from this night, after I’d cut it in half to send as two postcards.
We used some YouTube instructionals as a guide, Nina’s acrylics and brushes, and had fun splattering with white to get the star effect.
Painting with Nature
On our second painting night, we once again painted with acrylics and followed some YouTube tutorials to paint landscapes. I sent the creations as postcards again, too.
I’d recently read this post by Katherine at The Walking Sketchbook, wherein she paints by the sea using stones, seaweed, and other natural findings around her. (Lots of simple, creative ideas there—by the way, a place where I find inspiration!)
So that evening, on my short walk across the circle to attend painting night #2, I picked up a few leaves, rocks, twigs, pinecones, and spongy lichen (pictured below), as possible paintbrushes.
So in between the YouTube landscapes, I played and experimented in my notebook with these natural tools:
^^ That’s a pinecone which textured across.
^^ This one I completely textured by painting with a twig.
^Lichen and pinecone again.
The next art night, a friend introduced us to “Zen Doodles” via YouTube tutorials:
This afternoon, everyone was working on something different.
There was weaving with paper…
Collaging with paper scraps…
And one friend brought his linocutting/ink rolling materials to share!
He let me borrow them to make my own print later in the week:
(Yup, postcards. You guessed it!)
It was fun to play with a new-to-me medium, which is actually quite accessible! I learned that even without linocut materials, you can carve into a fruit or vegetable and stamp with paint/ink, or draw with pen onto a styrofoam egg carton and use that to stamp your design. Cool!
Impromptu Art Night ZenDoodles
More zen doodling another night…
Postcards for the Sunrise Movement
Two of these friends had ordered 100 postcards through the Sunrise Movement, which we sent to the provided addresses of voters in Florida two weekends ago, urging them to vote in November’s election.
Art Lesson with Legit Art Teacher
Finally, my good friend Ellie moved away at the end of September… but after she returned to Indiana, she organized a Zoom art night with her mom (retired art teacher, interior designer, quilter, maker of So. Many. Creations.) as instructor!
We started with a fun warmup, which I used to do with a friend in the trail shop at Zion in the mornings. You look at the person, cannot look down at the paper, cannot pick up your pencil from the paper, and draw their face.
Then, she had a skull sitting on her table, which we drew a few times:
We had a quick intro to value:
And practiced thinking about light and shadows, with some simple shapes:
Have an Art Night of Your Own!
There’s really nothing more to it than, “Do you want to make art with me? Bring paper if you have it, I have tea and materials to share.”
You can do a million things with scrap paper and a pen. Or recyclables, scissors, and a glue stick. Anyone can play and make.
You can do them virtually, too. “I’m going to paint or something on Saturday from 1-2 p.m., do you want to create with me? We can work on the same thing or separate things. I just want to share space with you and be playfully creating.”
One thing’s for sure: I wouldn’t have made all these paintings and doodles and postcards without the art nights.
A Breath of Gratitude
While it’s never easy to leave a good thing (everyone will have moved away in a matter of weeks), and while we were all bummed it took so many months for us to find one another here, I’m grateful for the art nights we’ve been able to spend together—making, being, laughing.
I know there will be many more art nights to come, with beautiful souls I have yet to meet.