Over seven years ago, Tim and Susie Grade opened Sipping ‘N Painting in the Highlands — a fairly fresh concept at the time. Without a previous background in art, they were hoping to bring an enjoyable mix of art and entertainment for the amateurs and pros. Each class is taught by one of four artists and broken down from beginning to end. “It’s almost better to not have a background in art; it allows us to break down a class for anyone to understand,” said owner Tim Grade.
Upon entering the studio, you’re immediately welcomed by the eager smile of the professional artist who will be guiding you through your evening. In this case, Ashley Joon will be teaching a room of 18 to paint like Van Gogh. Students are handed a painter’s smock and a token for their first adult beverage. You are then asked to pick a seat and pump out your paints. Each seat is adorned with an easel, white canvas, a large mason jar filled with water to wash your brushes and a few large and small brushes used for various painting techniques.
After settling into your seat — blank canvas in tow — the class promptly begins with funky throwbacks playing just loud enough that you’ll find yourself bopping around in your seat to the sounds of Mariah Carey and Usher. Joon begins by instructing the class to dip their largest flat brush into the jar of water and then lightly dabbing it onto the paper towel that is provided at each station. Next comes the paint. For this class specifically, the first layer is a combination of three colors—blue, green and white—to create an almost ombre gradient from left to right or right to left, with light strokes from top to bottom. This part takes a while but gets each student into a confident state.
While the first layer is drying, students are encouraged to get up and walk around, perhaps enjoy another glass of wine, cold brew or a handfull of bar snacks. Once the first round of acrylics have dried, the branches are lightly stroked into place. This part can be interpreted individually — some using the medium rounded brush for precise strokes and others using the large, flat brush for loose movement across the canvas. The one big rule of this class — there are no rights or wrongs. Students are encouraged to have fun with their canvas and interpret it however they feel.
Once the branches are set and mostly dry, highlights of yellow and white are added to give depth. Following this step comes the final addition of flowers. Joon encourages the class to use two colors when applying petals to the branches and also reiterates how there’s no wrong way to do it. Some students meticulously paint petal by petal and others dab paint on like a sponge. Each member of the class finishes at their own pace with breaks to get up and view other’s work. One key thing you’ll notice is that each finished canvas is different; no two are the same.
Once everyone is done, the class groups together for a photo of each student and their finished piece. It’s fairly impressive to see what can be accomplished with a little wine, a blank canvas, paint and instruction.
Sipping ‘N Painting Highlands caters to classes of up to 40 people. Classes can be booked for private events. Walk-ins are welcome for regularly scheduled events which range from $30 to $40 and include one drink token. Additional beverages of beer and wine range from $4 to $6.