Setting aside time to be creative with today’s busy schedules can be a challenge. But at the many local paint-and-sip events popping up at businesses throughout central Vermont, creating art becomes a group activity and the catalyst for a great time with friends.
“The reality is that adults, especially, need time to be able to tap into the right side of our brain, the creative side of our brain,” said Claire Giroux-Williams, co-owner of Burlington Paint and Sip Studio. “There are tons of health benefits to that. Serotonin and dopamine are released. It’s good stuff.”
Paint-and-sips have a casualness that sets them apart from conventional art classes. Each person is provided with a brush and canvas, and the instructor leads them step-by-step through creating their own works of art. Depending on the venue, artists can also enjoy an alcoholic beverage while they paint.
With a focus on enjoying the experience rather than producing professional results, the events attract those who might otherwise feel intimidated by the medium. Instructor Emily Hebert of Emmy’s Paint and Sip said, “I have done many paint and sips where people say, ‘I have never done one of these before,’ or, ‘I am so bad at painting, it’s not my thing,’ but at the end of the night, they are shocked at how well they do and cannot wait to do it again.”
“Paint and sips gained popularity about five or six years ago, and it has spread all over the country,” said Natasha Bogar, who teaches paint-and-sip classes at businesses in the Bolton, Stowe, and Waterbury areas, through the Natasha Bogar Studio. “In Vermont, we have really strong communities present from region to region.”
Because of the accessibility of the artform, Giroux-Williams said, paint-and-sip events are appropriate for people of all ages, from children to grandparents.
“It’s very unifying,” she said. “I can go with my grandmother to do this and I can go with my 12-year-old niece. It’s a very level playing field because you’re doing something that everyone has some capability of doing.”
At first, new participants may be unsure of what they can accomplish, but through practice and experience, anyone can become more comfortable with the medium, Giroux-Williams said.
“When you begin to come more, through simple exposure — just like if you went bowling twice a month — you are going to get better at it,” she said. “You’re going to start to learn the medium a little bit. You’re going to learn the techniques, You can start to predict and get creative.”
While some may be attracted to the event for its social aspect, Brogar, who has a teaching background, said her paint-and-sip events are a great opportunity to share knowledge with others.
“From the proper way to hold a brush, to color theory, layering, and the many facets of painting, it’s important to me that I make it fun but also informative,” Brogar said. “I also work really hard to keep designing new images that relate to our region.”
The “sipping” selections vary from venue to venue. The Burlington Paint and Sip Studio has its own bar, which the studio keeps stocked with wine and local beers. For traveling paint-and-sip teachers like Brogar and Hebert, the logistics can be more challenging.
“It depends on the venue,” Hebert said. “Some locations don’t have a liquor license, so it’s BYOB. Other places have the license, so participants can purchase drinks at the event.”
Hebert said various breweries sponsored paint and sip events at a summer festival last year and provided beer to the painters.
“I do not supply any drinks or food,” Hebert said.
While the sipping may be a bonus for some, it was not intended to overshadow the creative aspects of the event.
“People don’t usually have more than one or two drinks during a class, they are too busy painting,” Brogar said. “I would say alcohol is not the central focus, it’s more of a perk.”
Drink or no drink, paint-and-sip events are an excellent way to boost the confidence of any artist, Hebert said.
“Everyone is always surprised at how well [the paintings] come out,” she said. “It all comes together. We take group photos at the end and everyone loves each other’s art. We are all our own worst critics.”
To learn about upcoming events happening at Burlington Paint and Sip Studio, go to burlingtonpaintandsip.com
To see Natasha Bogar’s upcoming events, go to natashabogar.com/events
To book a private paint-and-sip with Emily Hebert, go to facebook.com/emmyspaintandsip