The Oyster River High School (ORHS) cafeteria will fill with masterpieces on Thursday night as the community enjoys a brand-new fundraiser.
Paint and Pizza, a fundraising event hosted by the senior class, will feature a guided art lesson led by ORHS art teacher Maria Rosi on January 12th. From 6-8pm, participants will pay $30 to create a painting, dine on pizza, and support the class of 2023. The event is open to any student, parent, or other member of the community over age ten, regardless of art experience.
This is the first time the senior class has hosted a painting night. According to Katie Johnson, the senior class government advisor, the idea came about because “a lot of members of government and senate said they want fundraisers that are more than just someone purchasing a good. They want the community to come together. We thought this would be a great opportunity to try to do that.”
“We wanted to do something for the whole community, because usually [fundraisers] are just for students,” added Catherine Stevens (‘23), who has helped plan Paint and Pizza as the senior class secretary. “We thought, who doesn’t want to paint something with their family?”
Johnson had been to a few guided painting nights in local cities and had heard about a teacher friend in another district doing a similar fundraiser. “I’m like, this is kind of fun,” said Johnson. “It’s cheaper, too. $30 is actually a really fair price to get food and walk away with a painting, in comparison to going to an establishment in a city to do it. And all the money goes right to the senior class.”
As for what the event entails, “It’s a traditional paint night,” explained Rosi. “Participants will show up, there will be supplies organized, and they’ll get settled into an area to do their painting. There will be volunteers there to help them get their supplies and then I will begin hosting the evening and leading them through a pre-planned painting.”
Rosi will guide attendees through the painting process, beginning with blending a colorful background and then moving onto designing a colorful cup, taking a break in the middle to feast on pizza. “I’m trying to fit in as many creativity choices as possible, like color choices, imagery choices on the cup, what type of cup they paint.”
At the end of the night, attendees will get to bring their paintings with them, which Stevens noted as another unique aspect of the Paint and Pizza event. “Normally with fundraising, you don’t get to bring anything home,” she said. “This time, you get to paint something and bring it home!”
Rosi agreed to teach the event because “I like to donate my skill set in any way that it can be helpful. But I also have a senior advisory, so of course I wanted to support this class especially.”
“It took way more planning than I thought” to prepare for Paint and Pizza, Rosi explained. “I actually put a pretty significant amount of time into preparing because I have never done a paint night. It’s different than teaching and it’s different than the way that I teach as an art teacher. It is much more planned.”
In a classroom, Rosi usually only plans the medium and lets students use their creativity to determine a specific subject. For Paint and Pizza, Rosi also has to plan for everything else, “because the intent is that it is a guided experience. I tend to teach with much more creative freedom, so it was a little bit of an adjustment for me. I had to think about the very, very beginning painter, what kind of experience they would enjoy and have success with. My first attempt at a painting was 200 percent too difficult. I had to really pare it back and think about subject matter people would enjoy, think about being inclusive of everyone. It really took some careful thought to figure it out.”
She emphasized that the event is for everybody, regardless of experience. “I’m trying to include people with art experience and people with very limited art experience,” Rosi said.
“I think one of the things I’m excited about is that this is an opportunity for me to be Bob Ross, who is kind of an inspiration for me,” Rosi said. “Bob Ross was on TV when I was a kid, and I would stop on PBS and I would watch his episodes. He always made me feel like art was for me, and that if I took those paints out, I could accomplish more than what I thought I could. That’s kind of what I’m trying to channel with this event.”
Rosi highly encourages anyone to register for the class. “Art is not a gift you are born with. Art is about enjoying the process. With a little practice, people will be really surprised by what they can create, and I really welcome them to come experience that surprise.”
– Zoe Selig
Art by Maria Rosi