The art of drinking
Local ‘paint and sip’ classes have patrons picking up a wine glass for inspiration
Picasso would be proud. Well, maybe. There's no way to know for sure, of course, but it's likely the painter would approve of a growing trend that involves combining one of the mediums he's most known for with the likes of pinot, merlot, chardonnay and zinfandel.
These paint-and-sip classes—so called because people paint, while, you know, imbibing wine—fuse the artistic and drinking world with guided classes. The sessions are hosted by instructors who oversee the process as patrons drink, all the while trying to stay inside those blurry lines.
And fans of the classes say they like it because the combo lets people color outside of their comfort zone, giving those who haven’t touched a brush since grade school a new excuse to paint.
Michelle Spence, a sign-language interpreter from Rocklin, originally attended one such class as a going-away party for a friend. Initially, she says she didn’t plan on painting because she felt she lacked creative and artistic talent.
“It turned out that I could paint way better than I ever thought I would be able to,” Spence says of her experience at the class offered by Creative Juices, a Rocklin-based mobile company that recently morphed into a brick-and-mortar studio.
Moreover, she adds, the class fostered an environment in which she didn’t feel limited, critical or self-judgmental. The scene was loose, with people chatting and commenting on each other’s work. Even better, Spence says her home now boasts a wall lined with several different works painted in the classes she’s attended.
“I have all my art on my wall because I’m proud of not just my abilities, but also just having those memories and the experiences,” she says.
Kim Godinho opened The Painted Cork in Folsom in 2010. The studio, which also has a Midtown location, recently celebrated its fifth anniversary.
“It’s really interesting that it’s become the new fad … to paint,” Godinho says. She’s glad for it, of course.
“It’s bringing art back. It’s really cool,” she says.
It was Godinho’s husband who originally suggested the idea. At the time she wasn’t interested.
“I thought he was ridiculous,” she says. A year later, however, the couple decided to give it a go locally after hearing about friends on the East Coast who’d tried it.
At Godinho’s studio, where the walls are decorated with blue, yellow and orange paint swirls and also lined with completed works, the booze is strictly BYOB—you know, just like at an underage college kegger, but with brushes and a decidedly more sophisticated atmosphere.
“We really want the alcohol just to be something that is optional, if you want to bring it,” Godinho says. “The wine is secondary to the experience.”
Indeed, she says, many of those who come to participate just want the social experience. Still, the drinks do draw people in.
“I say that I’m fishing with wine sometimes,” Godinho says.
And while some fish need that water at first, afterward they often come onto drier land, especially when they find out how much they actually like painting and return sans wine.
That suits Godinho just fine.
“It’s not really a hardcore bar atmosphere,” Godinho says.
The goal, she says, is to help people relax enough to get creative.
“At the end of the class, it’s really exciting to walk around and look at everybody’s paintings, and they’re all completely different.”
It’s even turned into something of a popular date night option for couples.
“Dinner and a movie is just such a classic thing, but it gets old, you know?” Godinho says.
Paint-and-sip classes just might be the hidden mecca for the singles dating scene, she adds.
“Ninety percent of the people who come in are women,” Godinho says. “Look at all these women in this classroom. I’m like, ’Where are all the single men when one of these classes is going on?’”
Drinking beer somewhere, probably.
These classes aren’t limited to drinking-specific studios, by the way. Some traditional art studios are offering the sessions, too. Patris Miller, of the Patris Studio and Art Gallery, for example, added classes two years ago to complement the studio’s high-level art classes.
It was a way, she says, to help people rethink their conceptions about art studios.
“[It takes] off that awkward edge I think that people might feel at first about trying to do some artwork,” she says.
At Patris Studio, guests are allowed to bring their own food and beverages, while the studio provides the stemware, dishes and art materials. The spotlight isn’t so much on the wine, but rather on the overall vibe.
“We don’t really focus so much on the sipping part of it,” Miller says. “But it puts it in a different context. It becomes a lot less stressful and more kind of just fun and social.”
The studio also offers children’s paint-and-sip events as well. Don’t worry, though, there aren’t toddlers running around with bottles full of tequila. Obviously. Think juice boxes or whatever legal under-21 option the kids are into these days.
Regardless of age, Miller says the studio’s classes are a good way to for novices to have fun.
“I think [the students] are kind of surprised that in the end they can actually go, ’Wow, I created something here,’” Miller says.
Some entrepreneurs are expanding on the idea. Aimee Rebmann, who started Creative Juices in 2011, recently opened The Art Bistro, a wine bar and art studio combo in Rocklin. Unlike other options, Art Bistro hosts an open art studio during which people can work in other mediums like clay, mosaic, watercolor, acrylic paint and mixed media.
Rebmann says she was inspired by her own disinterest in the typical bar scene.
“I sat at a lot of bars just kind of looking around and making small talk with my friends. It’s not the most fun,” Rebmann says. “[The class] just gives people a different form of entertainment.”
It also has a wine bar and kitchen, which means that unlike other paint-and-sips, it’s restaurant style, not bring-your-own-bottle.
Like studio owners, Rebmann says she appreciates the way wine “gives people permission to … do something that they are afraid they might make a fool of themselves at.”
And even if people think they might be making a fool of themselves, “The results are usually surprisingly good,” she says.
“I’m not going to say they’re all masterpieces, but at the same time … I’m often just blown away by how well people do,” Rebmann says.
Besides, creating masterpieces isn’t necessarily the point.
“It’s about that craving for creativity, that craving for something more engaging,” she says. “You actually walk away with something you can be proud of.”