Tables were set up near the front window at Bookmans East and each seat at the tables was set with an 8-by-10 canvas, a paper plate that would soon hold dots of paint, paper towels and a couple of paintbrushes. There was water for rinsing brushes at each table.

This was Bookmans Paint Nite on Friday, Feb. 16. About 40 people had signed up for the free event, but others asked to join in as they saw the supplies being laid out and realized this was going to be fun. They were welcomed.

More than 50 people sat at tables and painted at Madison Cilano’s direction. The plan was to paint a saguaro cactus with a saguaro blossom in celebration of Arizona’s birthday a few days earlier on Feb. 14.

But this is the United States of America and people did what they wanted, especially the children. About a third of the artists were children younger than 12. It was an event that brought entire families.

Painters were to begin with a purple background. Most were purple, some were pink, some green. Some were darker on the bottom than the top and some the other way around.

Some of the artists painted a straightforward saguaro with two arms and blossoms at the top. Then there were the Degas-types, the Picassos, the Van Goghs and even a couple of Stephen Kings, the author of creepy novels.

Each person left with a piece of unique art, all beautiful in someone’s eyes, because that’s what art is.

Contact Johanna Eubank at