Drawing on artistic inspiration for a novel night out

Pam Mills

Meeting friends in the pub is a traditional way to socialise but, as Secret Art Parties founder Lewis Chapman tells Eileen Leahy, there’s another way to make new friends – and improve your creative outlook at the same time…

Can you give us a brief synopsis of what the Secret Art Parties are all about?
We are all about experiencing a good time socially by painting pictures originally done by famous artists. Painting parties are not a new concept; they have become popular in recent years as people are looking for more meaningful, new and exciting entertainment experiences. We run them on the first Tuesday of each month at beautiful settings in
Tunbridge Wells, with expert artist guidance, high quality art materials and tasty drinks and nibbles.

How do you decide upon each month’s featured artist?
We choose painters who have passionately explored colour, line, form and composition
to create evocative and powerful paintings that will provide a rich experience for our
guests. Artists whose work we have painted since we started hosting last year include
Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Alexej Von Jawlensky, Georgia O’Keefe, Edward
Hopper and David Hockney.

How did you come up with this creative concept?
I wanted to strike a balance between entertainment and education, with an emphasis on an all-round high quality experience. We love to create a happy party atmosphere so that our guests feel ready to try something new and learn painting techniques. We also only partner with venues that serve delicious food and drinks, such as Saint John’s Yard and Jean’s Kitchen and Wine Bar in Tunbridge Wells.

What do you think people gain from attending one of your events?
We believe that everyone can enjoy painting pictures, and so aim to empower our guests
to be self-expressive, creative and fulfilled through painting. And we hope by doing so
we are contributing to creating a calmer, more loving and wiser world to live in.

Can you talk us through a typical Secret Parties event?
Our artist guides and assistants love nothing more than sharing their love for artists and painting in a sociable party setting, with a drink in one hand and a brush in the other. Our guests are made to feel at ease so they can quickly learn advanced painting techniques by following carefully structured yet simple steps. We guarantee every guest will have a finished painting by the end of the party and will have experienced painting in the brush
strokes of featured famous artists.

Do you find people attend more than one?
Yes, we have guests who have attended many already, and they have invited all their friends. We love it when we have inspired our guests to continue painting well after the party is over. Several have since been back in touch with us to share their beautiful paintings with us.

What kind of people attend, and are they a good mix of skilled and amateur painters?
Yes, they are. We have some guests who have seldom dabbed a dot of paint, and some who are avid brush wielders. We also welcome a good mix of men and women and a range of ages from 18 years, plus. Our guests gain an insight into the painter’s life and work during both the Secret Art Party and in the week running up to the event.

Sum up this social experience in three words?
Joyful, creative and meaningful.

The next Secret Art Party on Tuesday May 1 is sold out. Tickets for the next event on June 5 cost £35 per person (groups of 4-10), or £30 per person for ten or more people.
To find out more, email: greatnightout@secretartparties.co.uk or visit www.secretartparties.co.uk


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