WHO: Globe Staff member Milva DiDomizio; daughters Claire, 16, and Abby, 14
WHERE: Palettes in Natick
Until visiting Palettes, I had never put brush to canvas to make a real, honest-to-goodness painting. Fortunately, as artist/instructor Barbara informed us, Palettes is a “judgment-free zone.”
We arrived early and checked out the interior of the paint and wine bar that reserves Sunday afternoons for “Family Paint.” It’s not a drop-off activity, but rather a time for families to create art together.
Pop music blared through the speakers, and colorful paintings lined the walls around us. Although they were pretty, you probably wouldn’t find any of them in a museum. No matter. They were cheery, and maybe even took some pressure off one willing but inexperienced grown-up.
Barbara welcomed us and asked if we wanted to work on the theme painting for the day, for which she would provide detailed instruction and help, or do our own thing. I opted for the help and instruction. Claire and Abby, as kids are wont to do, pursued their own ideas.
We were shown to a row of stools, and sat down before our mini-easels and blank canvases. The kids contemplated their next steps, while I studied the example canvas of flowers in a field that would be my project.
As others arrived and got settled, Barbara suggested we head to the back of the gallery to hang up our coats, put on a smock, and ready our palettes, which were just sheets of white posterboard we covered with gobs of paint.
Barbara’s pre-painting talk included the bit about the “judgment-free” zone, and suggestions for positive reinforcement that would work for any painting (“I like the way you use the blue”). She directed our attention to the refreshments area and told us to feel free to get snacks and drinks at any time.
Palettes’s logo says “eat. drink. paint.” but we didn’t find much food there. Most kids will be perfectly satisfied with the juice and milk boxes, and chips, pretzels, and other nibbles. For grown-ups, there was coffee, tea, strawberry mint water, and beer and wine.
Once everyone was happily situated with their palettes, noshes, and brushes, we got started by mixing some colors and painting the horizon line. Next came the blue sky, then the grassy green ground, and finally the yellow flowers. Meanwhile, Claire was working on a depiction of the instruments in a jazz quartet, and Abby had an abstract piece going.
The artists around us spanned the generations. Very young children, teenagers, young and older adults, and seniors all worked on canvases. The finished products were fun to see. Though based in the same color scheme and composition, each “field of flowers” had individual style. One little girl added her own color choices to her flower patch, another woman worked a sunset into her sky with shades of yellow.
In the relaxed, encouraging atmosphere, making a painting turned out to be easier than I imagined. We left happy, with three canvases of our own creation, Claire and Abby discussing where in the house they might display their work. In the end, my field of flowers turned out OK. I may even hang it on the wall.
Palettes, 29 Main St., Natick. Family Paint on Sundays from 1:30-4 p.m. $20 per person, $10 each additional canvas. Themes change weekly, see website for details. 508-318-8337,