Canvases, easels and small cups of blue, brown and white paint dotted the tables as children and parents watched Tara Pappas create a night sky with thick purple brush strokes — and then tried their hand at their own works of art.

The paint party hosted Friday night at Laramie Montessori School was part of a fundraiser for the school, said Chris Maki, head of Laramie Montessori’s Parent Teacher Organization. While the group’s goals include raising money for extra school supplies and a snack pantry and increasing community awareness, it also has a larger objective in mind: purchasing new playground equipment for the students.

“We are interested in ... naturalist-style at Montessori, nature-inspired climbing equipment,” Maki said. “We’ve looked at swings and slides.”

The parent teacher organization is working toward an overall fundraising goal of about $20,000, Maki said.

At the front of the room, Pappas walked the attendees step by step through a painting based off of her work “Joy of Snow.” Students and parents started out with a basic background and then moved on to painting mountains, adding white dots for stars and cutting out paper snowflakes to give their artwork a more personal, individualized touch.

“We’ll be going through basically all of the steps of my process,” Pappas said. “So, we’ll start from the very beginning and adding layers and texture and then at the very end, even though I am leading them through the process, at the same time I’m going to allow for some freedom there — choices of color, choices of background. It makes for an exciting paint party.”

Natalia Johnson, owner of Abundance Creative Arts, said Pappas — one of the art center’s instructors — hosted a similar paint party workshop last year. At that workshop, attendees created paintings in the style of another one of Pappas’s works, “Stargazing.”

“We had a really good turnout from the public,” Johnson said. “Not everybody was involved with the PTO here — it was nice. Tara does lots of paint parties for us, and she’s a local art teacher at Linford, so she’s really great — she’s a mixed media artist.”

The paint parties give children and parents the chance to create quality work while still expressing their individuality, Johnson said.

“It’s really amazing how they turn out so like hers, but with their own kind of personality or flair,” she said. “So, it’s fun that she’s able to bring her specialty and actually make it approachable for the children.”

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