Event pushes painting for a purpose

By James Johnson

March 15, 2014

LUMBERTON — Burgeoning artists will get a chance to make their mark this month while helping a good cause.

For the first time, the Biggs Park Mall on Elm Street is hosting Paint for a Purpose, on March 27, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The event will allow participants to pay a $35 fee for material to create their own art, and receive a lesson from local artist Lauren Huff. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Robeson County Arts Council.

Huff, who hosted a Paint for a Purpose event while living in Boone, said that she was inspired by similar events that she had noticed taking place in Raleigh and Fayetteville.

“I thought, we have nothing like that in this area so I thought that it would be really interesting to give it a try and put a different spin on it,” said Huff, who is 27. “We wanted to help out a local nonprofit. This time we wanted to donate to the Arts Council because they are doing a lot with the revitalization project downtown.”

Huff brought the idea to the Biggs Park Mall, due in part to her friendship with mall Manager Chelsea Biggs.

“We definitely like to involve ourselves in the community in any way we can, because that is who is coming to the mall to shop,” Biggs said. “We want to make sure to look out for our customers by giving back and also have fun events for them, and this does both.”

For Huff, who graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in interior design, the event allows her to share something that she feels is an essential part of life that too many miss out on.

“I personally feel like people think they have to have a talent in the arts to begin painting and that is not true,” Huff said. “Anyone can paint if you want to be a painter. It is a skill, and skills can be learned. This event will be very rewarding. I will take them through the phases step-by-step. The last event I did in Boone, I could tell that [participants] were just so amazed with the final product.”

Participants will all be given an opportunity to paint a still-life of flowers in a vase. Though the subject matter is the same, Huff expects the end results will be drastically different, as she hopes to encourage creativity among all of the artists. Once the paintings are complete, participants will be able to take their work home.

“It is a little more whimsical than a traditional painting class. I am not very rigid,” Huff said. “I have the steps broken down and they can use creative liberties as they want or they can stick to the plan. It is all up to them.”

Thus far, Biggs said, half of the 20 slots available have been sold.

Huff believes people are excited at the opportunity to express themselves, free of judgment.

“I think the key thing is for people to just relax and have fun with it,” Huff said. “I think that is the beauty of art. No one is a failure. No matter what you paint, there will be at least one person who will see your painting and think it is beautiful. It is all in your opinion. I think that is what makes it fun, and having fun is the ultimate goal.”

Fayetteville resident Courtney Dempsey agrees. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro student may not have dreams of making art her career, but like many others, she sees it as an escape.

“College gets stressful, and when I paint, it gives me time to zone out and give my brain a break,” said Dempsey, who is 18. “I go on autopilot.”

According to Dempsey, opportunities like the Paint for a Purpose event present a rare opportunity to have fun and give back.

“I look at it as a chance to do something I enjoy for a good cause,” Dempsey said. “So it’s a win-win.”

Interested participants are being asked to stop by the Biggs Park Mall office or to call 910-740-3030.