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Arts & Entertainment

Nightlife: The Paint Bar

Paint-and-sip classes for all ages


During the summer months, BU Today is revisiting some of our favorites stories from the past year. This week, we feature stories from our ongoing “Nightlife” series, exploring various dining, music, and cultural options.

Looking for something different, something both relaxing and creative? Head down to the Paint Bar on Newbury Street for a paint-and-sip class, where you can create art while imbibing beer, wine, or soda. It’s the perfect way to unleash your inner artist.

Here’s how it works: first, go to the Paint Bar’s online calendar and reserve a date. We came about a half hour early for the nightly 7 p.m. class we had reserved, which allowed time to check in, get paint on paper plates, purchase some wine ($6 to $9), beer ($6), and snacks ($1) from the bar, and settle in front of a blank canvas. The cost for a regular session is $35, for private parties $25 to $45. Each person gets a 16-by-20-inch prestretched canvas, paint, brushes, easels, and an apron. (Recommendation: wear old clothes.)

The night we went, there were more than 30 new and returning painters, of all ages and skill sets. Mia Schon, director of outreach and daughter of owner and cofounder Jill Kerner Schon (COM’81), opened the session by having the class repeat after her, “I love my painting!”

During each class, guests copy an original painting by photographer, painter, and cofounder Jackie Schon, another of Jill’s daughters.

things to do in Boston, nightlife, Paint Bar, Newbury Street

Paint Bar cofounder Jackie Schon’s paintings line the walls of the 1,200-square-foot space.

Mia urged the painters to use only positive words of encouragement. “Remind yourselves every minute,” she said. After naming the five brushes we’d be using, big, medium, round, square, and baby, our paint instructor told us to copy Jackie’s exuberant painting Funky Tree at Dusk, but said we didn’t need to do it exactly—for example, we could take creative liberties with choosing the palette and depicting the swirls of tree branches. Part one of the session kicked off to Lorde’s hit song “Royals.” (A bubbly soundtrack, as well as some actual bubbly and instructors’ encouragement give the class a fun vibe and relieve the pressure.)

The rest of the two-and-a-half-hour class followed a similar format: the instructor would discuss a particular aspect of the painting (without music) then return to upbeat songs.

After about an hour, painters are given a 10-minute break. The night we were there, a few in the class walked across the street to Boloco for a mini burrito (just $1 each, with a Paint Bar coupon); some ventured a little farther to Pinkberry.

In addition to its evening paint-and-sip classes, there are afternoon classes on weekends and the option for private birthday parties, corporate events, showers, fundraisers, and the like. Guests have celebrated from 30th to 80th birthdays there. Paint Bar recently bought a mobile van, aptly named Van Go (yes, they love puns), because of increasing demand for classes, allowing the concept to spread to four local restaurants.

The Paint Bar recently implemented a frequent painter program—guests get a free art class for every five paid classes. One painter has attended 30 sessions so far and gives her paintings to family and friends as gifts.

Although similar art bars exist in the area, including Paint Nite and the Artist Bar, the Paint Bar staff says their clear instructions give their place a competitive advantage.

things to do in Boston, nightlife, Paint Bar, Newbury Street

Participants painted variations of Paint Bar cofounder Jackie Schon’s Funky Tree at Dusk.

Once painters added their finishing touches and signed their names, each artist showed a masterpiece to the rest. Those at our table received a round of welcome applause.

We left with unique paint brush–shaped pens, warm smiles on our faces, and paintings we could all be proud of.

The Paint Bar, 248 Newbury St., Boston, phone: 617-467-5777, offers two-and-a-half-hour painting sessions, with a half-hour period before class begins to register, find a seat, and get your paint and a drink. General classes are $35 (alcohol is extra) and are held Tuesday through Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. Admission for private parties is $25 to $45, depending on the age of the guest (children 8 to 11 are $25, 12 to 17 $35, and adults $45). View the calendar for the Boston location here. By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Hynes Convention Center, and then walk about six minutes to the store.

‘Like’ the Paint Bar on Facebook for updates on deals and special paint nights.

This is part of a series featuring Boston nightlife venues of interest to the BU community. If you have any suggestions for places we should feature, leave them in the comments section below.

Sonia Su can be reached at ssu@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @SoniaSu_.

This story was originally published on November 7, 2013.


One Comment on Nightlife: The Paint Bar

  • Sarah on 11.18.2013 at 3:07 pm

    I stopped by the paint bar while traveling through Boston and found it very quaint. Being from Los Angeles I am accustomed to the nightlife and nightclub scene to be much different then what I experienced here. It was nice to have an evening out and not be so overwhelmed and take in some art.

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