Field Notes: Tap Into Your Inner Picasso at These Paint Parties Around Honolulu

Field Notes explores Honolulu’s vast and varied scenes and subcultures. This month: paint parties.
Photos: Dallas Nagata White 


What it is

Social painting is basically an elementary-school art class for adults. Over the course of a session, an instructor walks a group of people step-by-step through a simple painting, demonstrating it at the front of the room so you can see exactly how it’s done. Summon your inner Michelangelo and, a few hours later, you have your own finished artwork to take home.


Though everyone paints the same thing, you’re welcome to get creative with it. Owner of Paint Nite Honolulu Tracy Pleasant says, “They bought their ticket, so they can paint whatever they want.” When we went, we saw an Eiffel Tower transformed into Santa Claus, Jaws coming out of the Seine and UFOs in the sky. It’s your masterpiece.


Painting with a twist

There are half a dozen social painting companies in Honolulu (see below). Some, including Loading Zone’s Sangria and Paint parties, add alcohol to the mix. You know, to help you loosen up and get the creative juices flowing. The price of a drink is included in the cost when you go to studios such as Painting with a Twist on Ward Avenue (which will hold its grand opening this Friday, Aug. 21), or you can BYOB to Wine and Design in Chinatown. Other organizations set up shop in local bars, restaurants and clubs, bringing in business on an otherwise slow night. “They kind of go hand in hand,” Pleasant says. “We bring the art studio to them.”


The setup

Instructor Stephanie Yanik demonstrates how to paint “Under the Red Tree” at M Nightclub.


Paint Nite, which arrived in Honolulu last November, holds a few events each week, at M Nightclub, Mac 24/7 and Big City Diner in ‘Aiea. Long tables fill the room, seating up to 40 people. Each station includes a blank 16-by-20-inch canvas on an easel, a paper plate with globs of paint, brushes, a cup of water (not for drinking) and a paper towel. The setup is similar at other paint parties. Grab a smock and a drink, but not before placing your hand on your canvas to swear to have fun and not say, “Mine sucks.” Remember, there are no mistakes in painting, only happy accidents.


Who goes

Unexpectedly, it’s not just women in their 20s on a girls’ night out—though there are a lot of those. Men come, too, either on dates or with friends, along with mother-daughter combos and a range of ages. There are total amateurs who’ve never painted, as well as some people who could probably sell their artwork by the end of the night.


Honolulu Paint Parties

Create a Canvas O‘ahu


Paint the Night Away


Paint Nite


Painting with a Twist


Sangria & Paint Party


Wine and Design


The Painters


 Teresa Choe, 23, Makiki, med school student

“We just finished finals of our first year in med school, so we wanted to relax and celebrate. It’s fun to see my classmates in a different setting and their artistic sides.”



Alister Tang, 27, McCully, med school student

“I figured, I’ve never painted before, so why not? This is my second time. I think it came out pretty good.”




Nicole Tsuchiya, 26, Hawai‘i Kai, family counselor

“It takes your mind off things. It’s very therapeutic. I love how everyone’s painting comes out different, and it’s a nice token of a fun night.”




Did you know? Living Social is running a deal for Sangria & Paint—$28 for a session that’s normally $40.