Brand New Canvas
Local business raises a glass to relaxed art instruction
By Adam ScoppaPublished September 1, 2012
Columbus’ passionate artistic heritage is well documented and deeply rooted:
Colorful murals adorn many of the city’s walls, galleries pack full of patrons every month for Gallery Hop. Artists of all professional backgrounds and skill levels abound – you probably sat next to one on your bus commute or stood next to one in line for coffee this morning.
But what about the folks who feel inspired to create and express but don’t have the money or time to take studio classes? Colors and Bottles, a series of inexpensive, three-hour painting classes taking place in bars, wineries and other venues around the city, aims to bridge the gap.
Colors and Bottles is the brainchild of Ohio native Jessica Burley, who returned to her home state after a five-year stint in Chicago working for the FDA. Burdened by an artistic itch she couldn’t easily scratch, she hatched a plan to take the perceived stuffiness of the studio out of the equation and replace it with a friendlier atmosphere that catered to beginners.
“I always wanted to take art classes and a lot of the places charged, like, $350 up front for every Monday,” Burley explained. “Everyone was so uptight and really good, and it was really quiet … I wanted to start something that was more relaxed, fun and social.”
Billing itself as the modernized art class, C&B employs the services of local, emerging artists in step-by-step acrylic painting instruction. Multiple times a week, classes of 10 to 30 patrons assemble in a local watering hole or BYOB-designated space. Each is issued a canvas board, brushes and paint and presented with a completed painting – a flower, a landscape – to replicate. With a beverage in one hand and brush in the other, everyone lackadaisically experiments with mixing colors, brush techniques and blending. There are no rules; you can follow along with the instructor or paint to the beat of your own drum, all the while talking and drinking with new friends.
Burley’s decision to host in various venues is two-fold.
“My whole business model is to not have my own studio,” she said. “It’s to support local economies, to market them and to bring customers in to increase their sales and publicity.” Plus, “It’s more fun to paint in a bar than paint in a studio, in my opinion,” she added with a laugh.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive since Burley taught herself web design and launched C&B a little over a year ago. She has quickly morphed her idea into a brand, remotely coordinating classes in nine other cities around the country. She is pleased but admittedly shocked that so many others shared her desire to get involved in art.
“You have to remember I have no artistic background whatsoever,” she said. “I definitely wasn’t planning on it happening this fast.”
“I think it offers people a way to unwind, experiment and do something that they might have never done before,” said Bobbi Lapushansky, a regular instructor who took time from tutoring a class of 20 to speak with me at Short North winery Camelot Cellars. Lapushansky relishes the opportunity to assuage patrons’ apprehensions about painting and ease them into the possibilities of artistic expression.
“They say, ‘I can’t even draw a happy face, mine is going to look terrible,’ and they come out looking really good,” she said.
Colors and Bottles classes are $35 each and are held multiple times a week at various locations. For more information or to register, visit www.colorsandbottles.com.