Unleashing Your Inner Artist


Southwestern Manitoba is getting a lot more colorful as home grown artistic talent is being discovered on a weekly basis. This swell of interest in the arts can be attributed to the growing trend of hosted paint night events which are sweeping North America with broad strokes and making art accessible to a wider group of participants.

The idea was developed in Boston in 2012, when two socially active men accepted an invite to a private wine tasting and art event. They enjoyed the evening so much that they were sure that this was an activity that would appeal to a larger audience. In four years, they have developed and grown their franchise Paint Nite into a $55 Million per year business worldwide. The duo recognizes that their largest customer demographic is women and they have no plans to expand their scope. While men might also be interested to explore their artistic side, Paint Nite has aggressively marketed to become the new preferred activity for girls’ night out.

Paint Nite Brandon MB Prairie Firehouse

Paint Nite Brandon at Prairie Firehouse.  Photo:  Paint Nite Brandon

Brandon has hosted some events through this franchise at the Prairie Firehouse and the Victoria Inn which inspires local entrepreneurship as hosts handle the local marketing and hosting, retaining 70% of the proceeds from the evening. However, local artists and galleries are also seeing increased interest in their communities and are also getting in on the action.

People are inherently creative and they are inspired to get their ideas out,” says Marlies Soltys, the curator of the Inspire Studio of Fine Arts in Minnedosa. “When you give a child a blank piece of paper and a pen, you can be sure they’ll fill up the page. When you give an adult that blank paper, they want to be given some direction.”

Inspire Studio-Minnedosa MB

Inspire Studio-Minnedosa MB

Soltys, who opened her gallery last December has been regularly hosting social evenings with an opportunity for patrons to explore art – but not just painting. The sessions to date have also included working with ceramic mosaics, water colors and oil on canvas. One popular session, entitled “Get Your Creative Juices Flowing” includes wine and refreshments over a six week orientation, with introductions to various art disciplines.

In Souris, the community is experiencing an art revolution which began two years ago when painter Kathleen Lagasse started offering classes in the basement of her home. Over the course of the first year, the enrollment had grown so significantly with students travelling from Hartney, Elgin, Brandon and Killarney to take part in the class. She had to migrate to a commercial store front space which allowed for a gallery as well as instruction space. After only a year, she needed to find even more room and has just moved into a larger, hopefully permanent, location.

Lagasse Studio Souris MB

Lagasse Studio Souris MB

Outside of her gallery, she has seen great success by hosting paint nights at Murphy’s Irish Pub, creating a social outing and breaking down the inhibitions of people that might be too intimidated to sign up for a gallery class.

What we’ve seen is that the social paint nights has been a great party night for girls or as a date night activity. The focus isn’t just on the painting, but the good time with friends in a social setting,” says Kathleen Lagasse. “It’s a great outlet for beginners and after a good first experience, many may want to try it again.”

The event is also inspiring new ideas for the host venues as well as restaurants and bars look for attractions and promotions to get people through the doors. For Murphy’s Irish Pub, introducing art evenings has been a great success.

Paint Nite Murphys Souris MB

Paint Nite Murphys-An Irsh Legacy

“Everyone has a great time and all pieces turn out unique with every individual’s own twist,” says Barb Murphy, co-owner of Murphy’s Irish Pub. “It has been very popular. We have hosted two nights with canvas painting as well as two nights with pottery through Milly McKenna at Fun Time Pottery. We have another paint night planned for October and pottery returning in November.”

As the public seeks out activities that offer an experience as opposed to just participating as an observer, art is finding a new home on the social calendars of many in the area. The appeal hasn’t escaped the offices of rural recreation directors and community organizations as well who have also sought out instructors to host community-driven creative events in a number of towns.

If you’ve seen the advertisements for a paint night in your area and have been curious to check it out, round up your girlfriends and make an evening of it.  You may just discover your inner artist that you never knew existed.