When is the last time you painted a picture? Think back. Probably w-a-a-a-a-y back.
"Junior high?" suggests Joan Smith of Huntington.
Why should the kids have all the fun?
Now, grown-ups can pick up a paintbrush and create their own paintings during a two-hour night out at Paint the Town Studio, a new business in Huntington village.
Each evening Wednesday through Saturday, artist Alison Hinkaty, 30, leads a group in creating a specific canvas painting that each person can take home and display, even frame. "I guide everyone step-by-step," Hinkaty says. "I'm really designing it for the non-artist and inexperienced artist, people who don't normally paint."
Smith and her husband, Brian, 71, attended a private opening night party at the studio two weeks ago. "At least your junior high school art teacher isn't standing over you giving you a grade," Brian jokes. "Nobody flunks."
HOW IT WORKS
A calendar on the studio's website shows what will be demonstrated on a particular night. Hinkaty spent the summer coming up with about 30 different templates for paintings she can break down to teach in a night -- from imitations of classic masters such as Van Gogh to originals of peacocks, steaming cups of coffee and a lighthouse.
Everyone gets their own blank canvas, easel, paintbrushes and palette of acrylic paint.
On opening night, Hinkaty led the group in painting two birds sitting on a tree branch in the moonlight. Instructions are shape-based: draw an oval for the bird's body, a small circle on top for the head and a triangle for the tail.
Songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton give the studio a festive ambience. Once the studio gets its beer and wine license, participants also will be able to purchase a glass of wine or bottle of beer to help get the creative juices flowing, says Hinkaty's co-owner and husband, Jon, 30.
Participants are encouraged to try different colors or flourishes to make the paintings their own. "My crows aren't going to be black, I'll tell you that right now," says Paul Skaperdas, 24, a network engineer from Oyster Bay Cove. "They're going to be blue." Skaperdas predicted he would give his painting to his girlfriend. But by the end of the evening, Skaperdas had changed his mind. The birds, he decided, would indeed look better in black against the reddening sky he painted. And he was keeping his creation to hang in his own bedroom. "I impressed myself," he says after signing his work in the bottom right corner.
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays at 17 Green St., Huntington. Reservations recommended. Family sessions on select Sunday afternoons; private parties also available.
INFO 631-683-5788, paintthetownstudio.com
COST $30-$40 (includes all materials).
OTHER PLACES FOR GROWN-UPS TO PAINT
WHEN | WHERE 7-10 p.m. once a week (next event is Oct. 12), 6278 Rte. 25A, Wading River. Reservations required.
INFO 631-886-2444, thepaintedcanvas.org
COST $40-$45 (includes materials)
The studio's next "Paint and Sip" night will involve participants creating a painting called "A Glass of White" along with a wine tasting by Palmer Vineyards.
WHEN | WHERE Private parties by appointment, 29 Haven Ave., Port Washington
INFO 516-944-6765, havenart.net
COST $25 per person (includes materials)
Owner Tom Kello will arrange a group painting session for a minimum of five participants. Participants can choose to copy a painting, or he'll put out items to create a still life. "It's the latest thing," Kello says. "It's one of the new fads out there in the art world so people can enjoy themselves in an evening."