By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – During the shoulder seasons in Big Sky when entertainment options are not as abundant, it’s time to get creative. One way to do so is to attend an art party led by local artist Jackie Rainford Corcoran.

Since hosting her first art party in 2013 for a conference group at Big Sky Resort, Corcoran has expanded from corporate art parties and private events at the Yellowstone Club, Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and Moonlight Basin to more public settings.

The first local art party was held at By Word of Mouth in 2014. Since then, she has hosted the event at many Big Sky businesses, and even on stage at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center. During the summer months, Corcoran leads a weekly art party at Lone Mountain Ranch.

Corcoran also brings her party and paints on the road to multiple locations in Bozeman, Ennis, and the historic Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks, Montana, one of Corcoran’s favorite spots.

“For many, the art party evolves into a dinner, dance, slumber, breakfast-in-bed party,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran likes changing the venue for her parties.

“It brings in different people and allows regular art party painters to get inspired in new ways,” she said. “So many people start out intimidated and say, ‘I can’t draw a stick person.’ I love painting with newbies because they are usually delighted with their finished painting and have a new confidence in their creativity.”

For a moderate fee, Corcoran provides all the necessary materials from easel to paint. She also creates a simple demo painting for each event and teaches some basic art principles to provide a starting point.

“As an art teacher, I want everyone to tap into their own creativity as much as possible,” Corcoran said, adding that art party-goers can paint whatever their heart desires so long as it can be completed within the two-hour time frame.

“If I steer them every step of the way by telling them exactly what to paint and what colors to use, I’m taking away their creative opportunities. That said, there are attendees who are more comfortable following guidelines … and that’s fine too. Ultimately, if they have a good time and leave feeling happy with their painting, we all win.”

Corcoran does have one rule she enforces during her art parties: It’s forbidden to say anything negative about one’s artwork while painting.

“When we’re creating, we’re arguably working at a high vibrational level,” Corcoran said. “And when we think and speak negative thoughts, we knock that vibration down—not only in ourselves but in the whole room. The truth is, being in front of a blank canvas in a room full of people can be intimidating and make us feel vulnerable. But this is also where we find the sweet spot to step outside of our comfort zone.”

Corcoran is hosting her next party at Ousel and Spur Pizza Co. in Big Sky from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. She also has an art party at the Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks slated for Jan. 20, 2018.

Reservations are required and can be made online at iloveartparties.com/big-sky.