By: Jennifer La Grassa
Escape rooms, ping pong bars, board game cafés and now paint lounges — unique social activity locations seem to be in great demand.
Over reading week, myself and a few friends went to one of Paintlounge’s downtown Toronto locations. My housemate and I had become obsessed with the idea of social painting after watching fashion blogger Tess Christine vlog about her painting experience. Within the short time that I discovered Paintlounge, I began to see friends on my Instagram feed posting about their adventure.
Paintlounge is exactly what it sounds like, a small lounge area with a café and a painting section filled with easels, brushes, paints and fresh white canvases, all ready for the beginner or expert painter to get down and dirty. The walls, stools, easels and painting smocks are splattered with paint — whether deliberately done or by mistake, the ambiance it created assisted my ability to immerse myself within the role of a creatively troubled painter.
We had signed up online for the “Winter’s Night” class, a moderate level adult painting workshop. Right at the beginning, the instructor told the class that she would not be walking us through the painting process step by step, which was great as it allowed everyone to work at their own pace. Instead, the instructor provided us with her expert advice, like which section of the painting to start with, the paint brushes we would want to use and the colours that matched those in the sample piece. Her words of advice were to get creative, the end goal didn’t have to be identical to the sample painting. My internal mantra was “you paid $40.00 for this Jennifer, don’t screw it up.”
Even without an artistic bone in my body, the final product didn’t turn out as bad as I feared. By the end it wasn’t even about the painting, it was about the experience as a whole. Performing a creative activity within a social setting was extremely therapeutic. After the first few brush strokes, I suddenly felt at ease and became fully absorbed in the painting process. The many mistakes I made along the way were laughed off amongst my friends and after almost three hours we stepped back from our easels to admire the paintings that we had collectively created.
Looking back, the experience has helped me appreciate the current fad of adult colouring books serving as stress relievers. Colouring and painting engages areas of the brain that deal with problem solving and organizational processes, along with the motor cortex. As well, it’s known to help reduce anxiety and employ positive thinking.
If Toronto is too far, a number of similar sessions are hosted in numerous cities, including Hamilton, called “Paint Nite.”
So McMaster, I urge you to put away the books, the phone, the laptop and the problems of your everyday life and sign up for a therapy session at the Paintlounge in exchange for the bar or pick up a colouring book if you lack the motivation to go to the gym. Creative or not, your mind will thank you for the artistic break.
Photo Credit: The Urban Craze