Art and fun a winning mix as Paintclub goes national

Girls’ night out; Jade Maloney, Lorraine Regan O'Neill (Paintclub instructor), Becca O'Reilly, Laura Dunne (Paintclub instructor), Aisling Kearney Burke (Paintclub founder), Martina Burke, Deirdre Burke, Adele Clinton.
Girls’ night out; Jade Maloney, Lorraine Regan O'Neill (Paintclub instructor), Becca O'Reilly, Laura Dunne (Paintclub instructor), Aisling Kearney Burke (Paintclub founder), Martina Burke, Deirdre Burke, Adele Clinton.

Lifestyle – Aisling Kearney Burke tells Judy Murphy how her business, which encourages people to have a paintbrush in one hand and a cocktail in the other, has caught the imagination.

“I’ve been an artist since I was born,” declares Aisling Kearney Burke. She’s also a shrewd businesswoman who set up Paintclub in Galway as a place where people can indulge their creativity while having a fun night out, either with their friends or on their own.

Paintclub gatherings are usually held in pubs or restaurants, where there’s an experienced artist on hand to give guidance and advice. Participants are encouraged to have a drink, create a painting and enjoy themselves. The concept has proven so popular in Galway that Aisling is now rolling out Paintclub countrywide and she’s thriving on it.

The day we meet, she’s just back from Italy where she suffered concussion after a fall while adventuring – but she’s still as sharp as a tack, buzzing with energy and plans for the future. She’s a persuasive and tenacious sort of person, which is good, because when she first mentioned the idea of holding painting sessions in a pub, she found very few businesses were willing to take a risk on her.

“It took six months to persuade a bar-owner to let me go into a bar with paint,” she recalls with a laugh. Eventually, An Púcan in Galway City, opened its doors after she “accosted Doug Leddin” of the pub at an awards ceremony.  That was in May 2015 and she’s never looked back.

“It’s massive in America,” says Aisling of the idea of painting clubs in restaurants and pubs. “And in college, we’d work late every evening until 1am to 2am, with loud music and a bottle of wine. It was great,” adds the graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design.

“Nobody was running social paint clubs in Ireland and I just wanted to give it a go. Doug got what I was trying to do and was receptive. The more we’ve done it, people either get it or think we’re insane. In the beginning I kept getting told it wouldn’t work, but I just don’t like the word ‘no’!”

On that first evening, Aisling brought along four bags of large easels for the 25 people who had signed up and laughs at the memory of the unwieldy items. These days, she’s well organised and has smaller easels that sit on tables.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.