Tapping Into Creativity with Family Paint Night


Gateway Intermediate School (IS) 364’s mission is to “cultivate a dynamic environment of advance thinkers, high achievers, and model citizens.” It is through this teaching model that the school incorporates a wide variety of family-oriented activities. Last year, this middle school began hosting a paint night for parents and their children. According to Parent Coordinator, Aimee Castro, since then the after school workshop has become one of their most popular events.

“I think this activity gives parents and their children the opportunity to bond together. They are able to have a conversation about their day while they paint,” Castro said.

On February 27th, IS 364 hosted their third family paint night this school year. Parents and students huddled over their individual canvases as Visual Arts teacher Dianne Ferrer explained the process of painting a female silhouette. This project paid homage to Black History Month (February 1st to 28th) and kicked-off their celebration of Women’s History Month (March 1st to the 31st).

Ferrer told the class that although everyone is given a similar concept to paint, they can all be as creative as they want in the style and content of their design. She handed out acrylic paint: yellow, green, white, and blue as a starter for the background. “Use the back and the front of the brush for long strokes along the canvas. Remember the background needs to be light for the silhouette to show,” Ferrer instructed.

One student, 13-year-old McClarin, recalled learning a technique called lifting and dabbing in which the artist creates a type of blotted texture along the canvas. After he carefully constructed a blue and green ridged background, he then showed his mother how to do it.

“Paint night is very therapeutic. It’s something that we find to be relaxing, and it helps my son become more interested in school. We love doing it together,” said King’s mother, Sondra Shepherd.

The entire art classroom buzzed with excitement once they began painting, but as they created more intricate designs and details the room was reduced to a deafening silence. The sheer intensity of the participants’ concentration took Ferrer by surprise as she walked around the classroom offering her help. In addition to parents and members of the PTA painting, Assistant Principal Treena Hall joined the creative endeavor.

This event was so much fun that they had to extend the workshop an additional half hour (ending at 6:30 pm) so that everyone could finish their paintings.

Ferrer’s version of the woman’s silhouette was painted on an over-sized canvas, which was auctioned off during IS 364’s Parent Appreciation Dinner on February 28th.

Photos by Amanda Moses & Courtesy of Amiee Castro