No experience needed — pick up a brush and follow
By Alison Rooney
Have you had a hankering to try your hand at painting, but felt completely intimidated? Or have you been looking to structure a get-together around an activity? Beacon’s eat-Paint-love Studio (EPLS) uses the medium of painting to bring people together. This can be an affinity group, a bridal party, parents seeking a new birthday party idea, or individuals who simply want to give painting a go but aren’t ready to sign up for extensive classes or purchase loads of supplies.
With two locations (the other, more focused toward children, is in Wappingers) EPLS takes basic “guided painting” in which an artwork is displayed and the painters-to-be are taken through recreating their version of it, step by step, and serves it up plain, in their studio, or gussies it up with extras. Instruction takes place in cocktail bars, coffeehouses, restaurants and wineries, outside of their studio, aided and augmented by what’s being served and good cheer.
With a “no experience needed” reassurance, owner Megan Hines says about 85 percent of first-time participants are “fresh beginners in art who come in saying ‘I can’t even draw a stick figure.’ They’re shocked afterwards, at what they’ve been able to do.” In a typical in-studio session, a painting is set up by the colorful storefront window, and artists are seated at a long, communal table (there’s room for 22 participants) set with easels and the other equipment (all supplies and an apron are provided) nearby. Painting sessions generally last about an hour and a half.
“I walk them through it, step by step,” says Hines. “For example, I’ll tell them ‘Find the halfway point of the canvas.’ They’re painting their version of the painting, with instruction.” Subjects include landscapes, flowers, or, in the case of one upcoming workshop — giraffes.
A transplant to the Hudson Valley from New Jersey (she followed her boyfriend when his job shifted to this region), Hines is enjoying living in the area and appreciates the natural beauty, to an extent: “I get really excited seeing the cows at Stony Kill. I’m the only person who pulls over to take pictures of them. But I don’t hike. I’m from New Jersey, so let’s not get too crazy.”
Creating a business
Hines began the business at outside venues, taking this idea to places like the Piano Piano Wine Bar in Fishkill, doing “Cocktails and Canvas” nights there and elsewhere.
Hines, who considers herself more a business person than an artist (“I can paint, so I do, but I wouldn’t classify myself as a painter.”), soon opened up her first brick and mortar studio, a small space in Wappingers, about two years ago. Its success led to studio number two, larger and more targeted toward adults, in Beacon, a place the New Jersey-reared Hines had always had her eye on. “It’s like Hoboken,” she said. “It’s like home to me.”
People find out about the business in various ways. “Facebook is a huge avenue for us,” Hines says, but so are walk-bys, drive-bys and just word of mouth. People know people and they tell them about this. One of her favorite aspects of the business is socializing. “I’m a people person and a lot of the people who come in become my friends — especially coming from a place where I didn’t know anyone it’s a great asset here.”
Hines also keeps in close contact with many other local Beacon businesses. “I think linking up with other businesses is something that many businesses neglect; relationships are important,” she says. As a result I’ve partnered with a lot of them: Chill Wine Bar, The Living Room in Cold Spring, Benmarl and Millbrook wineries, the BeaHive, The Ice House (in Poughkeepsie), West Main Restaurant and The Quiet Man (both in Wappingers Falls) and it has worked out very well.”
Connecting through canvas
As far as the in-studio classes and workshops, there’s a full calendar with a lot of flexibility. People can sign up for a series of paintings or just one. Themes and canvas sizes and sometimes paint types (though never oil, as it doesn’t dry quickly enough) are mixed up frequently so that the many repeat customers get to try new things each time. There are special projects, too: Terrarium-making, calligraphy and jewelry-design are just a few.
Group events can include any type of party or show, scout badge fulfillment, corporate functions, holiday events, “mystery painting nights” and the no-need-for-further-description “Mimosa Masterpieces” evenings. Children’s classes (in Wappingers) can be drop-off (ages 8 or above) or parents can stay. There are also twice-a-month classes for tweens.
Participants always get to take home their paintings and there is also a selection of paintings for sale at the studio, as the instructor always paints along with the group and those are offered for sale.
All classes are offered on a pre-registration basis with sign-ups through the calendar on the website. Walk-ins are not encouraged, but are permitted on a space-available basis. If you’ve signed up and then cannot attend, just let the studio know and the fee will be credited toward another event (must be within a month.) Eat-Paint-love also offers face painting, retail window painting and wall murals — just contact them to discuss ideas.
Eat-Paint-love Studio is located at 331 Main St., in Beacon. For more information and to register for classes at either the Beacon or Wappingers Falls location, visit eat-paint-love.com or email email@example.com.