Coping with a stressful fast paced life is challenging, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to take out time for refreshment and rejuvenation. Conversely the need for recreation and relaxation has now increased more than ever, as more and more people are experiencing a kind of exhaustion that cannot be recovered simply through physical rest. This fatigue is characteristic of a burning out of energies by concentrating solely on work and not making any time for other interests and pleasurable pursuits. For those who are fond of painting or have always been longing to acquire this skill but cannot allocate hours for classes, there is now a vogue of paint parties in India which is an excellent alternative. Although essentially a party, these gatherings are centered around perfecting artistic expression which is the primary motive. Not only does this serve the purpose of unwinding after a long week at work, it also makes art itself more easily accessible. It is thus of no surprise that such efforts to incorporate art into social gatherings have gone beyond the arena of leisure activities and therapy, into birthday parties and engagement ceremonies.
A Pune based Group ArtCircle is one of the most prominent planning agencies in this category that helps to organize such parties and curate the artwork produced. Experts are assigned to every party to oversee and guide the participants through the work. The most convenient aspect is that it is not necessary for the people to have any prior experience in painting; they are not even required to bring their own brushes and other tools. The materials for the purpose are always provided by the organizers themselves, including the canvases. The founder of this organization is Deb, a post graduate from BITS, Pilani who was born and raised in Kolkata. She has worked in several countries, and it was while working at an investment bank in London that she was struck by the idea that art in India was only meant for a privileged few and wished to bring it to the masses.
Although the intent might be such, these parties are certainly not like painting lessons. While engaging in conversations, mingling with other participants and enjoying an array of food and drinks, everyone is encouraged to try to create a work of art. Being a casual party, the aim is only to try to create something without passing judgment. For ease of instruction a painting is chosen beforehand and the step by step guidance is prepared. However there are no restrictions and everyone is welcome to choose their own subject of design. To ensure that the prospect of such a process is not intimidating, usually these parties are organized at local cafes or small restaurants in order to maintain an easygoing, familiar environment. ArtCircle not only arranges gatherings for private and public events, but also corporate parties and parties for children. The finished paintings of course can be taken home by the painters themselves for display.
Paint Bar in Bengaluru is a great place to unwind through painting and cocktails. The structure is slightly different as the concept is that of a two-hour workshop with drinks, refreshments, and some good music creating the atmosphere of a party. Paint Bar has a wide variety of events that it organizes, such as birthdays, office events, Valentine’s day celebrations, baby showers, and even bachelor and bachelorette parties. A lucky draw is organized at the end of each event where a participant can win an exciting variety of gifts and coupons – such as a free ticket for the next party or a bag of goodies. The parties that are organized are all usually based on a particular popular subject such as naturescapes, still life art, or broader themes such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Marvel superheroes, among others. Inspired by a similar establishment in Boston, the founders of Paint Bar have also set up a Paitn Truck as a part of the entire structure in which painting tools and equipment is arranged for and provided before a session. The workshop may be attended by anyone with a fee of around Rs 2000 that includes the raw materials. The process is broken down by the renowned artist Nishka, one of the founders, who guides the participants through the piece chosen for the session.
It is interesting to note that most of these establishments have been founded by people who sought to escape from the monotony of everyday life and give back to the people at large what they had been looking for. In this regard, Paint Social is another collective located in Mumbai that organizes fun-filled programs in a similar vein. Its founder Ruchi Mehta, although an MBA graduate, inculcated her love and passion for art in this organization which is reflected in its eye for quirky colour combinations and doodles.