How to Set up Group Painting Sessions for Fun and Profit

two women painting on eisels
What You'll Need
The basic tools include: Canvas for each person. Assorted paint brushes in different styles. Assorted paint in multiple colors. Paint type (acrylic, watercolor, oil). Paint thinner, if applicable. Easel for each person.
What You'll Need
The basic tools include: Canvas for each person. Assorted paint brushes in different styles. Assorted paint in multiple colors. Paint type (acrylic, watercolor, oil). Paint thinner, if applicable. Easel for each person.

Whether you do it with friends, strangers, or students, an informal painting session is a great way to express your inner artistic talents. If you enjoy putting it together, it might even become a fun little business activity. With a few supplies and a little planning, it is easy to set up a painting party.

The Business End

You can do this as casually as you'd like. Maybe it's just for fun! And even if you charge some money, it probably won't be worth going through the hassle of declaring your intentions legally until you're making a significant amount.

If you plan to do this on a serious ongoing basis, you may want to take advantage of tax breaks and legal protections for small businesses. You might consider filing with your state for an official license, and even pursuing a trademark certification if you're looking to scale.

Some potential things to research include:

Whether you need a permit to operate a business in your area.

Whether you need a business license for a permit.

Whether your home is zoned for business (if parties will be at your residence).

Whether you need business insurance for any liabilities.

How to pay taxes on the money you earn.

What expenses you can claim.

Whether you should hire an accountant to ensure your taxes are being filed correctly.

The Fun End

two smiling women painting at a table

Once the business part is taken care of (or knowledgably ignored) it's time to start planning what, when, where, and how to set up your paint party.

Each party may have a different theme, supplies, audience, and (potentially) pricing, but the overall steps for setting up remain the same.

Locale

You'll need some decent open space to pull this off comfortably. Whether indoors or outdoors, pick a location that's easily accessible for clients and available on the date you chose. It's a good idea to have one or two backup locations in case your original choice is reserved by someone else.

If you choose your home space, just prepare for a bit of a mess. You might consider laying a tarp and moving any delicate furniture items out of the way.

Theme

Pick a theme for the session based on the age group you're targeting. For children, there are plenty of cartoon characters, comic book heroes, movie icons, and more to engage the kids in being creative.

If the party is for adults, choose a theme that's fun, interesting and maybe a little challenging. Themes can be based on grand topics like seascapes, sunsets, landscapes, and mountains. They can be small and focused, built around still life subjects like fruit, candles, and books. Or they can be intimate and human—you might even consider hiring a model to sit as a subject.

Once people RSVP for the event and pay, begin the prep work for the event, such as sketching and painting a sample canvas for guests to follow, buying and/or ordering supplies, and reserving event space.

Marketing the Party

Advertise the upcoming event and the event date on your website, social media account(s), by word of mouth, etc. Have business cards readily available to give to friends, relatives, and work associates.

If you use a site such as Instagram, keep the page up-to-date with information about upcoming events, a variety of pictures of canvases you've created for children and adult events, and pictures of actual parties so newcomers to your page can see what you're offering.

Supplies

row of eisels and art supplies

Setting up a paint party for the first time can be costly since you will need to have all the supplies necessary for the particular theme.

Supplies include canvas and paintbrushes in different sizes, an assortment of paint in multiple colors, a palette to hold the different colors of paint, and a cup with water for cleaning brushes when changing colors.

You'll need this set up for each person attending the party. You'll also need to have either tabletop or standalone easels for each painting station. These are the very basics.

Since you're setting up a themed party, you'll want to decorate the environment to reflect the idea of the theme. Decorative items include things such as table coverings, party lighting, banners, theme-based decor, and posters.

If food is part of the event, you'll also need plates, cups, and utensils to use for snacks and drinks, packaged snacks or party trays for the guests, individual goodie boxes for kids or adults, adult libations, if applicable, ice chest with assorted beverages, napkins, paper towels, and garbage bags.

Pricing

group of people in a painting session with eisels looking at a flower arrangement

Pricing should be competitive, but it should also result in a profit once all supplies, rental fees, and party goods are purchased.

Along with the initial supplies for the party, pricing should also include shipping costs for supplies, the time spent setting up and breaking down the party area, drive time to and from the party location, if applicable, fees for renting a space, if applicable, pay for an assistant, if applicable, and any miscellaneous purchases, fees, or driving directly related to the party.

While setting up an amateur painting party result in a fun and creative activity, it also involves a significant amount of time to set up, break down, and pack away the party decor and supplies, operate and supervise the session, answer questions, and help with one-on-one instruction, when needed.

Final Thoughts

Allow plenty of time to create an interesting theme. The more entertaining your event is for guests in terms of place, price, and professionalism, the more business you may have come your way.