By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Contributor

Creating a space for people to paint who might otherwise never explore their creative side is exhilarating. The Art Party is similar to the popular “Canvas and Cocktails”-type events, where a group of adults gets together for a couple of hours, enjoys some wine or water, and socializes with others while creating their own artwork.

When people first sit at their easel, with a blank canvas staring back at them, they feel anxious. I give people a lot of credit for showing up since this unfamiliar territory is daunting for most new artists.

I’ve heard countless people say, “I don’t have an ounce of creativity” or “I can’t draw a stick figure.” But I disagree – we’re all artists and our minds and souls crave making art. Sure, if you haven’t painted since you were 5 years old, your first painting probably won’t hang in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, but don’t let that stop you.

Art parties provide a safe place to be creative without negative consequences. And even better, it’s a great place to practice creative problem-solving skills.

The Art Party is a bit different from others, possibly because I’ve been teaching private oil-painting lessons to guests at Big Sky’s Lone Mountain Ranch and other resorts for 16 years.

While I do provide a demo painting and offer guidance in drawing and painting, I like to say that you don’t get extra credit for making it exactly the same as the demo. Make it your own – that’s where your true creative process happens. If you want to paint something entirely different than the demo, I say, “Have at it!”

We start each event by going around the table and introducing ourselves, and everyone states what they’d like to accomplish in the two hours we have together.

This serves several purposes: it allows each person to be heard and acknowledged, giving them a sense of significance; it connects them to the rest of the group, offering a feeling of community; and it allows them to clearly state their purpose.

Perhaps the most important take away from the Art Party is the one rule I enforce: You are not allowed to say anything negative about yourself or your artwork. When we are in the creative process, we’re working at a very high vibrational energy.

When we have negative thoughts or speak negative words, it causes the energy in the room to plummet – not only affecting your own experience but everyone else’s. The inner critic will get its chance to offer constructive feedback, but mercilessly condemning ourselves stops creativity in its tracks.

Art Party-type events are happening all over the U.S., and you should attend many. Don’t let the inner voice that says you’re not an artist stop you. It’s about the experience. Let go of the unknown outcome and you’re sure to have an excellent time.

Our next Art Party in Big Sky is at Ousel and Spur on Tuesday, Aug. 18, from 5-7 p.m. You can reserve your easel online at iloveartparties.com. Come paint and party with us!

For more information, contact Jackie Rainford Corcoran at rainfordcorcoran@gmail.com.