Plein Air Party
In English period films such as Emma and The Importance of Being Earnest, high-society ladies gossip while serenely painting amid the buds and blossoms of spectacular, sprawling parks. Our gorgeous green spaces—I love the Washington Park Arboretum for its colorful blooms—inspired me to create a modern outing for girlfriends right here at home, complete with individual easels, a Liberty of London–inspired table and a relaxing picnic station perfect for gobbling up new bits of gossip.
The Refreshment Table:
A simple patio umbrella gets a colorful boost from hanging Mason jars filled with fresh flowers. Attach them by wrapping strong string or twine around the Mason jar lip, then knotting and securing to the umbrella frame with a ribbon. The secret to a stunning garden party table is displaying food and drink at varying heights. Here, an inviting spread incorporates tall blue cake stands from Clara French, floral plates from Ross Dress for Less and low decorative bowls found at Goodwill.
The Picnic Spot:
Create a comfortable place to soak up the setting with a perfectly in-season floral duvet and pillows. Mixing floral patterns is no longer taboo, but stick with a few focus colors that play well together. I concentrated on bright pink, and pops of red and yellow. FAVOR: In addition to their paintings, guests take home the brushes in handmade canvas pouches lined with vintage fabric.
The Invitation: A whimsical paint-by-numbers invitation (templates available at multiple sites online, including stoik.com) sets the party’s springtime color palette.
If you’re artistically challenged, local artist Mary Veronica Sweeney of Vera Icon Productions (email@example.com) often leads painting parties and will travel to your gathering to give guests expert tips.
Originally published in May 2010