Creativity Through Art: A Catalyst for Economic Vitality!

Sharilene Rowland at Paintlounge
Sharilene Rowland at Paintlounge

Fortunately, the City of Toronto realized this and is putting much effort into supporting and encouraging a creative city.  But just as fortunate for Torontonians are those within our communities who are creating business models, such as Paintlounge, that reach out to young and old, offering a creative space to explore the artist within.

Sharilene Rowland at Paintlounge
Sharilene Rowland at Paintlounge

I had the pleasure of meeting one such innovative young lady, Samantha Chan, founder of Paintlounge, during my first experience attending one of her many painting events called Starry Starry Night.  I was looking for something interesting, fun and different to do with a girlfriend to celebrate her birthday and since we both had always wanted to try our hand at painting, this was a perfect opportunity.  I found her website inviting, colourful and everyone in the photo gallery looked like they were having so much fun.  But, the phrase that hooked me was:

“We want to take you back to the fun you had back in grade school before your day-to-day busyness took centre-stage. By simply playing around with colours and lines, you can express a whole range of emotions. And no drawing skills are needed!”

I decided to check out her story and found out that creativity was always a part of Samantha’s life growing up and she found that simply playing with paint was beneficial to the soul. Samantha wanted to create a casual, fun, relaxing atmosphere where people could gather, mingle and explore their hidden artist. I can tell you firsthand she accomplished just that!

My girlfriend and I were nervous, but excited when arriving at their Toronto east end location at 1173 Queen Street East near Jones Avenue.  However, as soon as we walked in, someone greeted us with a huge smile and said, “Welcome to Paintlounge,” and took our coats then directed us to the beverage counter to sign in for the evening and offer us a beverage. Drinks range from all natural juice, a variety of teas, coffees and for this particular event, beer and wine. The location was fairly full already, with individuals ranging in ages from 20s to 50s.  Everyone is given a full apron (Thank Goodness!) and then we were able to choose an easel location and rest our drinks.  Next, one of the artists working that evening showed us the many photo books that had hundreds of sample paintings that we could use as references to duplicate or we could just do our own thing. The walls were also full of colourful paintings to inspire us.  Next, we were given palettes and directed to the paint station where we could fill our palettes with whatever colours we wished to use for our master pieces :-/ as well as different size brushes, palette knifes (plastic) sponges, etc. The offering of tools was endless.

Once we had our reference photo, our paints and our tools, we headed to our easels to begin our creativity adventure. Others around us were painting away and no one cared if you ventured by to see what they were painting and even ask questions. The staff and crowd were friendly, approachable and definitely enjoying themselves. To top it off, Samantha also invites local musicians to play during the evening, adding to the already wonderful ambiance. The artists working that evening would come by often to see how we were doing and if we required any help or suggestions. This particular evening was a freestyle evening; however, they offer many workshops where you will follow the instructor step-by-step to create a specific painting chosen for that evening for those who feel they would prefer more structure and instruction.

We had an amazing evening and even came out with pretty good pieces of art to our surprise. If you are looking for fun things to do in Toronto, I would highly recommend that everyone and anyone give this experience a try. Paintlounge offers a variety of workshops and events that cater to the young and old, families, groups and couples, such as their upcoming Valentine’s Day Special. Check out for daily programs.

Paintlounge’s three locations are: 1173 Queen Street East, 784 College Street and 118 Main Street in Markham. The cost is generally $40 for an instructed workshop, but other events can vary in cost from $20-$40.  We each paid $20 for the smaller canvasses, but could have paid a little more for larger canvasses.

I look forward to attending many more workshops!