As old adages go, “Everyone has an artist in them” is a harmless gem wielded liberally by every art teacher in the world trying to inspire students. Even if the adage is true and there is a tiny artist dwelling within us all, they don’t all have easy access to the control panels. Maybe Malcolm Gladwell was right and 10,000 hours of practice can achieve mastery in any given field, but who needs mastery when you can have wine instead?
A growing number of art classes use libations to coax out inner prodigies for one-night events where a generous pour is paired with a guided painting session. You might not walk out with a masterpiece destined to fetch $100 million at Sotheby’s in New York City, but you might finally unleash your artist’s soul to match that black beret and itchy turtleneck forgotten in your closet.
Anthony Pego is an artist with Wine & Palette, which offers pop-up classes around the metro. Pego inherited his passion for painting from his grandmother and has since worked in graphic design, music and a wide range of creative fields, often under the pseudonym Boo Science. He even gained national attention for his series of portraits of politicians as cats. He has been an instructor for Wine & Palette for over four years and has seen how that creative spark can be ignited in even the most hesitant participants.
“At first, they’re nervous; they’re worried that they’re going to suck,” Pego said. “I tell them, ‘No, this is something that everybody can learn. I promise you, you’ve got skills within.’ Everybody comes in worried. And everybody leaves with a beautiful painting and had a great time. That transition is the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced.”
Pego and the other teachers on the Wine & Palette roster will submit their original work, which will then be placed on the calendar. Prospective participants can then look through the calendar to find a painting they want to try to create. Pego will then walk the class through the steps he took to create it, giving them some fundamental tools that need to be in every artist’s repertoire.
Tiffany Bora owns Tipsy Artist, 117 W. Harrison Ave., in Guthrie. She said she focuses on easy and stress-free projects for her classes.
“We have tracing templates for all shapes and fonts,” Bora said. “I feel that this still allows for creative freedom with the experience while making it more pleasurable for beginners. I teach a style that I have developed called Coloring Book Painting. We also offer different painting options at every show so that there is something to offer for a variety of tastes.”
Brushing upSince the programs are as much entertainment as they are education, they can often be found in various hotspots around the city. Adam and Stephanie Jones opened Paint N’ Cheers seven years ago at 1614 N. Gatewood Ave. in the bustling 16th Street Plaza District.
“For two hours, we provide our customers with an experience away from all the crap going on in the world and all the crap going on in their lives and all we concentrate on is painting, drinking and having a great time together,” Adam Jones said.
“This is something that everybody can learn. I promise you, you’ve got skills within.” — Anthony Pego
Pinot’s Palette is a national chain that opened a location in 2013 at 115 E. California Ave., Suite 100, in Bricktown. Owner Ashley Gardner said that Pinot’s Palette has an expansive library of paintings and a specialized instructing style to take amateurs from blank canvas to finished painting with enough leeway to allow the more brave to follow their own vision.
“We build our calendars two months in advance and select a wide variety of paintings between landscape, floral, and trending home décor designs,” Gardner said. “Our artists also have the opportunity to make extra money by creating paintings that will be added to our library of thousands of designs and included on our calendar.”
Since participants are sometimes choosing the session to take only by the painting that is going to be recreated, Pego said there is strategy involved in what imagery he is going to propose for a class.
“People might think artists just smoke a bowl or drink a six pack, have a good cry, then out comes all these colors and lines,” Pego said. “I actually just look at the seasons and sometimes what movies have come out or what songs are popular. Maybe there’s a famous ballet production coming here soon so I’ll do a ballerina. If I’m unsure what colors I want to use, I’ll do a search for ‘spring 2019 colors’ and, if I see fashion designers are using a lot of pink and blue, I’ll do pink and blue paintings.”
Though the programs are popular date-night ideas for adults, Pego said it’s not just for the 21-and-up crowd. There are plenty of children’s classes available that forego the drinking component. Of all the age ranges, Pego’s favorite crowds tend to be older.
“I recently had this smaller class of around nine ladies in that 50-80 age range,” Pego said. “By the end, I felt like they were all my grandmas. I felt like they really cared for me that much.”
Pego said it is normal for each artist to get their own following of students who sign up for classes month after month. Part of that loyalty is inspired by the different art styles, but it’s also that human connection and shared experience unique to communal creativity.
“Every once in a while, somebody gets frustrated and you get to help them fix a few things at the end and they’re never big deals. They’re always just minor little details,” Pego said. “They’ve done the bulk of the work; they’re just not happy with, let’s say, a window or the eyes. And you teach them a few tiny little tricks that we artists just know innately. We’ve done it a million times and now they get to learn a tactic or technique that’s super useful that they’ll be employing for the rest of their lives. It’s just hugely fulfilling. Every time I come away from a class I just feel like I’ve done yoga or had some spiritual awakening. My mind is kind of reset in a new place.”