Hungry Betty's restaurant served artists in its dining room Monday night.
Not the starving variety, mind you.
These were newcomers to art. But they were quickly drawn into the pasttime provided by The Painter's Pub, a traveling art party that combines lessons, comraderie, creation and food and drink in an unconventional art setting.
Erika Sandstrom's art venture is part of a national trend that has swept across the South and Midwest but only recently taken root in New England.
Taken root firmly, however.
"We're not leaving," said Mary Kaye Leonard of Marblehead. Mary Kaye, one of the participants, mixed paint on her palette. She then started painting birch trees on a winter landscape patterned after a mountain home she owns in Bartlett, NH.
"I can't put the brush down," said Carlin Weaver, sitting across from Mary Kaye. Carlin is a Swampscott High School grad, Class of 2002, who is studying dentistry at Tufts.
"It's addicting," said Peggy Kelleher of Marblehead, a technology sales person sitting next to Mary Kaye.
Many of these people did not know each other before tonight.
Ordinarily, Peggy would be at home on a Monday night watching television, probably The Bachelor.
Instead, she and Carlin and Mary Kaye and seven other people sat at dining tables hauled together, covered in a plastic throw cloths and set with paint and brushes and mini easels.
Music played over the soundsystem. The mood was relaxed and the painters were engaged in their works, guided each step of the way by Erika.
From time to time they sipped wine or beer, chatted and nibbled nachos or another Hungry Betty's appetizer.
Tickets to the party were $35 to paint, $45 to paint and enjoy a drink and an appetizer.
Mostly, they moved paint brushes over their canvasses.
Even the owner of the Village Plaza bar and grille, Jason Rakauskas of Swampscott, had a creation going.
Up until then the only painting he had done was the kind his wife told him to do: painting a room in their house.
Erika, a teacher at Peabody's Higgins Middle School, says Painter's Pub combines two of her loves, teaching and art.
Everyone has an inner artist, she said, and the paint parties bring that artist out, she said.
The lessons moved from painting the background, mountains, to the foreground, a snow-covered valley, evergreens, a home and birches.
The parties allow everyone to enjoy success with art.
That's one of the appeals, said Mary Kaye Leonard.
"I feel successful," she said, eyeing her next dab of paint.