Paint Nite events on Long Island

Priya Persaud of Hollis, left, works on her

Priya Persaud of Hollis, left, works on her painting at Eleanor Rigby's in Mineola. (Credit: Barbara Alper)

With a glass of wine in one hand and a tube of acrylic paint in the other, Long Islanders are mining -- or finding -- their artistic talent at a host of watering holes running make-your-own-painting nights.

"I felt unsure going into it, but then I had a drink and relaxed," says Joe Romeo, 29, who discovered his inner Picasso recently at a Paint Nite Long Island event with his wife and friends at Eleanor Rigby's restaurant in Mineola. The evening's outcome, a vivid rendering of fireflies hovering above a grassy knoll, now takes a place of pride in his Franklin Square home.

WHAT YOU'LL MAKE

The Boston-based company Paint Nite is mixing cocktails with music and lime-green smocks at a growing number of eateries and pubs around the country. The company provides the art materials and the instructor, who shows patrons step-by-step how to create their own masterpieces in just under two hours.

The gratifying fare includes brightly colored sunsets, city skylines and silhouetted trees. "They are not easy to mess up," explains instructor Collette Schildkraut, an artist who has brought the popular drink-and-paint trend, extending from Los Angeles to London, to Long Island.

"It's fun, therapeutic. No one is judging," says Schildkraut, noting how her students generously encourage and compliment one another, although they may fret over their own paintings. "People can be tough on themselves," she adds. "Another drink helps."

To sign up, budding artists visit the company website (paintnite.com) and select from a menu of composition templates, difficulty levels, dates and venues. Tickets are $45, not including the price of food and drinks.

SCENES FROM PAINT NITE

Leslie Freedman and her group of seven friends decided to arrive early to a recent Paint Nite at Michael's Porthole in Oceanside to down a few appetizers and a beer or two during the restaurant's happy hour while acclimating to their unconventional studio.

"It is such a positive feeling," Freedman, 61, of Freeport, says a few hours later, leaving with her ready-to-hang canvas. "I can't wait to do it again." The restaurant's owner Michael Rodnis says Paint Nites there are sold out through March, even after adding more slots.

Mitch & Toni's in Albertson combines Paint Nite with Munchy Mondays, serving up sustenance at a discount throughout the event. "The small bites won't interrupt," notes co-owner Toni Contino. For those artists who worry they may mistake the ketchup packet for paint or wash brushes in their gin and tonic, dining before or after may be a better option.

Contino, formerly in the fashion industry, says she is always on the lookout for new trends -- scotch and cigar nights, comedians, psychics. "I like to keep it fresh," she says.

Paint Nite, the brainchild of Sean McGrall and Dan Hermann, who first sketched out their business plan on a paper napkin, offers adults a creative outlet and a chance to connect -- for singles, couples, family and friends. "The pub atmosphere gives the art classes a neighborhood feeling," says Eleanor Rigby's owner Cathy Monachelli.

For Freedman and her Freeport friends it was especially so. "We became close after our co-op was ravaged by Sandy," she says of her Paint Nite pals, all forced to vacate their homes after the storm. With some encouragement, dabbing and drinking, the initially wary friends were surprised with their Paint Nite results. One of their renditions of a hummingbird perched on a tall reed against a fiery sky now hangs in her complex's guard booth. "When you pull in," Freedman says of the vibrant canvas, "it's the first thing you see. "

FOR MORE

Paint Nite Long Island

INFO paintnite.com

COST $45

Reservations and prepaid tickets for all Paint Nite events must be made online, where you can see a preview of the featured painting. All sessions start at 7 p.m. Several upcoming sessions are sold out, but availability remains here as of press time and more events will be scheduled:

Michael's Porthole

92 New St., Oceanside; 516-608-1380

April 3, May 7 and 21

Mio Posto

600 W. Old Country Rd., Hicksville; 516-605-2365

May 13 and 20

NYCB Theatre at Westbury

960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury; 516-247-5200

March 17, April 21, May 5

Ocean at the Crescent Beach Club

333 Bayville Ave., Bayville; 516-628-3000

March 26, April 16

Tavern 18

26511 Union Tpke., New Hyde Park; 718-347-4846

April 7

Lamantia Gallery

127 Main St., Northport; 631-754-8414

May 6

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