COLERAIN - Martins Ferry grade school art teacher Natalie Zambori loves teaching. She also loves art. She filled her summers with art camps, and enjoyed the aspect of teaching art year round. Last summer, an adult friend asked her about teaching a painting class on her own. These classes grew from individual classes to group parties. From there, Zambori, who holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree in art, brought the idea of Art Journey to life.
Art Journey is an on location painting party taught by Zambori. The "on location" is what makes Art Journey unique. Zambori will come to a place of the host's choosing and hold a painting party for a group of at least seven people. Dates and times are flexible and chosen at the convenience of the host.
"That's the best part of this," Zambori remarked. "I love bringing art into people's homes." Her goal is to make art accessible to everyone. The cost is $35 per person, which includes paint supplies and an 18 x 24 canvas. She brings everything paint related plus the instruction and doesn't set a time limit for the class. "I just stay until everybody's happy."
Natalie Zambori shows off some of her Art Journey paintings with the assistance of her family, from left, Leo, Chad and Nolan Zambori. Art Journey is an on location painting party for groups of adults or kids, taught by Zambori. Dates and times are flexible and customized paintings can be done at no extra cost. Zambori said that her two boys love painting with her when she’s developing paintings for children’s parties. Her goal is to make art accessible to everyone.
Having a painting party in the comfort of home tends to put less pressure on people, she explained, adding that people are more laid back because they're with friends and family. For the host, the cost of having a painting party is free; the host just needs to provide the location and any snacks if she chooses. Guests are also welcome to bring their own snacks and beverages.
Zambori requests a seven person minimum for on location events. She has also used the Hilltop Social Hall in Colerain for painting parties, where she requires a 10 person minimum. People can also rent shelters at a park, or anywhere they feel inspired. "I've been everywhere from Victorian homes to decks and patios," she noted. She can accommodate up to 25 people. "I could do more, but I want it to be a more personal experience," she said, explaining that she likes interacting with each guest.
Another aspect of Art Journey that makes it unique is Zambori's willingness to create custom paintings for groups. Hosts can choose from any painting posted on her website (artjourneyparty.com) or her Facebook page, or they can request a custom piece. Customized paintings do not cost anything additional, so it's a perk that Zambori encourages hosts to take advantage of.
"I've actually gotten good at matching paint colors in people's homes," she said with a laugh. Any of the paintings on her website can be customized with different colors, or she could even work off of a theme to create a custom piece for a party.
So what could someone expect at an Art Journey party? Zambori explains that she walks guests through the painting step by step, and along the way, offers suggestions on how to customize. "Paintings don't have to be cookie cutter, and that's what makes art fun. Everyone is different." Past guests and hosts have told Zambori they enjoy her teaching method.
Zambori instructs using simple terms and breaking an image down into shapes. "If you can draw a line, you can draw a shape. If you can draw a shape, you can draw anything. If you can make a mark on the canvas, we can build things step by step." Breaking a painting down helps keep people from being so overwhelmed, she said.
Art Journey parties can range from private parties with groups of friends or groups of moms to church groups and, one of Zambori's favorites, kids birthday parties. She said the birthday parties are fun because it's amazing what kids create - plus taking home a unique piece of art is much more meaningful than a regular goodie bag. Zambori enjoys working with kids and in July, she will hold a kid's art camp.
The best part of Art Journey is Zambori's positive attitude and her love for teaching art. Therefore, she encourages everyone to give it a try. "There is no pressure and no prerequisite," she said. "There is always at least one person who is a little negative or feels intimidated, but once they start the background, they feel better.
"Just take the first step - go out of your comfort zone, because once you do it, you'll be so happy that you did. There's never been one of those people that has ended up not happy at the end."
June marked one year since Zambori began Art Journey. "I had no idea how it would explode like this," she explained. "I've never been this busy, but I've never been this happy, either. I've been all around the Ohio Valley, and I've met so many new people."
For Zambori, Art Journey has been the best of both worlds. "I'm making and doing and also teaching at the same time. This has allowed me to get back into art making, and that for me has been huge."
"I love bringing art to people and into their homes," Zambori continued. "I like that art is becoming something that more people are interested in. I think it's something that's good for kids. I think it's something that's good for the Ohio Valley."
If you are interested in learning more about Art Journey or having your own painting party, contact Zambori at 304-280-6051, email@example.com, or visit her website artjourneyparty.com or her Facebook page.
Hershberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.