Let me strip away the marketing and tell you what PaintNite really is: it's an opportunity for women in their 40s and 50s to try to escape their every-day lives of jobs and chores and children and to feel that perhaps there is someone worldly and artistic ready to be unearthed.
Of course men are technically allowed to attend also. Like a unicorn photoshopped into a field of horses, the PaintNite website even shows an aproned guy sitting at one of the easels. Trust me when I tell you this, the only men who attend these things are the ones wearing tuxes and handing out bacon-wrapped scallops.
So what happens when the big night arrives? After tweezing your eyebrows and lip and chin (is it only me?), you get ready as if you are going on a date. (Let's be real, girls, we clean up way better for our friends and gynecologist than we do for our significant others.). Upon arriving wherever the PaintNite is being held, you wade through a sea of estrogen, diminished as it probably is in this group, and find a seat at one of the long, buffet-style tables each with its own canvas and plate of red, blue, and yellow tempera paint.
And then the fun begins!
At first everyone tries to pay attention to the instructor, who is standing up front with her own canvas and plate of paint, ready to show us each step of the process.
"Okay, ladies, we are going to start by covering three quarters of the canvas," the 20-something instructor says, brush in hand.
We are only one sentence in to the class and already the natives (of some upper-class suburb) are getting restless.
"But which way do we goooo? Horizontal or vertical?"
"How do I get green? I don't have green."
"Where's the wine? I didn't get my wine!"
I'm pretty sure that our instructor and her two 20-something helpers are either clinically deaf, or, more likely, they smoked a cigar-size joint before class because they do not flinch at the middle-aged verbal barrage coming their way.
"Next, you will draw stripes like this," she says, drawing some orange stripes onto her three-quarter covered background.
With this artistic curveball, the din in the room becomes deafening.
"But how do I make my lines straaaaight?"
"How do I get orange? I don't have orange."
"Where's the wine? I need my second glass of wine!"
By the time that the instructor is ready to show us how to paint the bottom quarter to make a table, she's officially lost her audience. No one is listening, each person absorbed in their own conversation and painting.
"Ooh, I like your painting."
"Ooh, I like your painting more."
"Where did that guy go with the wine?"
But instead of this classroom lawlessness being a negative, it turns out to be a very good thing. Unburdened by the rigidity of the step-by-step instructions, each woman begins choosing their own colors and shapes and style, their paintings now becoming a personal expression.
"I think I'm going to add an extra flower."
"I'm going to make mine bright pink."
"I almost drank the paint water!"
This conversation and creativity continues until all the wine glasses and paper-plate palettes are empty. By the end of it all, we not only have an original piece of our own art, but we are also left feeling, at least for one night, like a cosmopolitan Frida Kahlo.