Orange After Dark Paint Nite event allows students to channel inner Picasso

Students got creative at Paint Nite, a painting party Orange After Dark hosted on Friday.

With “What is Love” blaring over the loudspeakers, Claire McKenney looked around the Sheraton Hotel ballroom, which resembled more of an art studio than a meeting space.

McKenney is a Master Artist at Paint Nite, a company that holds painting parties around the country. Her staff, based in Syracuse, is busy four nights per week in bars and restaurants around the city. On Friday, Oct. 9, she taught as many as 150 Syracuse University students at an Orange After Dark (OAD) event.

Photo: Nick Papantonis
Students spend two hours painting and socializing on Friday night at Orange After Dark's Paint Nite event.

Her staff set up long rows of tables and chairs, and provided each student with brushes and paint. McKenney and a few other artists stood at the front of the room, instructing students as they created their masterpieces.

“It just makes art more accessible that way, because no one gets really nervous,” McKenney explained. “They're just here to have fun. So many people tell me that this is why they got involved in art again."

That was true for arts and sciences senior, Chelsea Thomas, who said she was excited to see the event on OAD's calendar.

“I actually knew what Paint Nite was before this event,” Thomas said. “I looked it up on Google and was really interested before that.”

While many students followed the instructors in creating a pink-flowered tree in front of a blue sky, others took their work in a different direction. There were sunset scenes, abstract designs and Batman symbols.

McKenney said the point of the paint party was to allow people to be as creative as they wanted. She and her staff discussed how to break each painting down into simple components to make it easy to teach.

“Anyone can do it. We don't really use any technical terms,” she said. “It's very, very basic.”

Paint Nite was the latest of the many OAD events introduced in the last few semesters. Tickets sold out the day they went on sale at the Schine box office, which told organizer Courtney Jones, assistant director in the Office of Student Activities, that there was an interest for social events like this.

“It definitely tells me that we should consider doing this again in the future,” she said.

Students who attended gave the event positive reviews. Most said they enjoyed the chance to spend time with friends in a more relaxed environment, like engineering and computer science junior, Rachael Dobosiewicz.

"I thought it was really nice,” Dobosiewicz said. “It's good to get out, and it's fun to paint.”

Orange After Dark’s upcoming events include a trip to Get Air! Trampoline Park on Oct.16, and dodgeball on Oct. 17.

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