Dried paint and crusty brushes populate nearly every inch of the worn tarp that’s splayed on the floor of Palo Alto High school senior Katie Look’s cluttered garage. As rap music blares in the background, high schoolers huddle together, talking and experimenting with different bursts of color across blank sheets of paper. To a passerby, this might seem like an unexpectedly relaxed school night for a bunch of stressed teens; however, for Look, this is just another one of her paint parties.She lays out a plastic carton teeming with paint brushes, tubes of paint and loose sheets of paper she found around her house and Look invites people to take as many materials as they want; the next few hours are spent in a hurricane of patterns and splatters. Look’s decision to start organizing paint parties was spontaneous, catalyzed one morning after she woke up and decided that she wanted to paint. Drawing inspiration from former choir classmate Chelsea McIntosh (‘16) and her Wednesday night cereal parties, Look seeks to emulate the same relaxing atmosphere. “She would have friends over and would have like fifteen boxes of cereal and three different kinds of milk, and we just ate cereal together every Wednesday,” Look says. As guests smear layers of pigment atop one another, Look lays down a jean jacket that she has been decorating for the past few months. While others doodle, Look works on embellishing the jacket as a present for a friend. “I decided to make it [paint parties] a regular thing when I realized how therapeutic it is and how nice it is to spend time with friends doing something that there’s no pressure with, no pressure to be good at it,” Look says, dabbing complementary colors onto the jacket. The carefree ambience she manages to create encourages people to come. “I’m not a very artistically inclined person but I enjoy hanging out with some friends, listening to music, and painting random stuff that comes to mind,” says senior Benner Mullin, someone who frequents such parties. The gatherings in Look’s garage are always informal – almost as a rule – and an array of people come each time. Throughout the night, guests continue to flow in at their leisure, plopping down onto the worn, dark blue tarp. “The first one was really just my close friends plus some of my brother’s friends who had been over that day to watch football,” Look says. But soon after the initial paint party, she created a Facebook group consisting of people she thought would be interested in attending, and regularly insists that people add or invite other friends to come along. “I wish more people would come,” Look says. “I always want there to be more people and I tell people ‘Bring your friends, bring whoever you want’… I always think it’s more the merrier and I think it’s fun when different people show up.” For the duration of the evening, partygoers draw whatever comes to mind, some painting swirls of shades lapsing into a leafy design, others creating images of cartoon penguins. Some do homework, while a few simply chat. Look and her guests believe that people come to have a good time and to get away from the stress of school. “[The parties] are strangely therapeutic,” says senior Ida Sunneras Jonsson. “More therapeutic than anything else.” While Look believes that her paint parties have a positive impact, she’s unsure if she’ll continue with them in the forthcoming years. “At this point I don’t really know what the future holds or where I’ll be after graduation,” she says. “All I can say is I hope they [the paint parties] continue to grow and bring more people together.”