Photos by Maurie Hartel
THE PALETTE WAS PERFECT FOR THE SIXTH BIRTHDAY PARTY OF AN ART-LOVING LITTLE GIRL
Cecilia Duhon is only 6 years old, but her creative streak is already strong. She loves to pick up a brush and tackle art projects at home and at school, and few things make her smile more than completing a new masterpiece.
So for Cecilia’s most recent birthday party, her mother Justice knew a painting party would be nothing short of a brushstroke of genius. Party planner and artist Maurie Hartel, a close friend, set out to design a party that would be spirited and memorable, and she soon settled on a theme using perky paint chips as a recurring motif.
The setting for the party would be Bristles Art Studio in Hattiesburg, where owner Lissa Ortego imbues young creators with lessons drawn from her own vast art experience. “Lissa is an amazing artist,” Justice says. “She studied at the Memphis Academy of Art and has a master’s degree in gifted education from William Carey University, among other degrees. Bristles has an amazing atmosphere with a fun, warming presence.”
From the moment Cecilia and her 20 young guests stepped into the studio, they found themselves in a world of living color. No less than 56 shades of pink filled a custom artwork that sat behind the table full of pastel treats; when guests looked closely at each paint chip, they could spot “Cecilia 12-10-16” in place of the usual color name and number.
“Our sweet attendees loved running to find their very own personalized aprons to set the fun in motion,” says Justice of the individual apparel pieces created by Clare Brewer of Sew Cute Monogramming. “Clare, Maurie and I collaborated on style and end product, and they were perfect.”
Since the party took place in the morning, Justice and Maurie planned their menu around “fun sweets and light salty treats.” The colorful spread included a paint-striped cake, paint chip cookies and pink icing-dipped pretzels—all by Beth Robinson and Rebekah Saucier of Monkey Kisses —along with pink bon bons, popcorn and personalized chocolate bars.
Before they could sample all of the goodies, the girls found their spots at the art tables, where they painted their own snowflake designs on canvases. “Painting engulfed most of the time, and all the attendees just loved it,” Justice says. “They were all at the perfect age to stay focused and interested in their creations. At one point, all of the parents collec- tively agreed that a party where children all sit quietly for an extended period of time is priceless!”
At the end of the party, guests took home their new aprons —perhaps with a smudge or two of their favorite colors for character—as well as their candy bars and their own winter artworks.
“Cecilia truly had the time of her life at this party,” Justice says. “Art is her element, and she and her best friends loved celebrating and creating together.”