A common theme emerges when you talk to anyone who has experienced tipsy painting: enter as strangers, leave as friends. A feeling of camaraderie is just one of the many phrases used to describe the attraction to the paint and sip industry. Hardly a new trend, the concept has been wildly popular on the East Coast for the past eight years but just recently hit Clatsop County.
Tipsy painting is, in essence, an alcohol-fueled paint class typically led by a local artist; participants work from an example painting to create their very own version of the same artwork to take home as a souvenir. Participants paint while enjoying a glass of wine or beer along with painting instruction and conversation; all art supplies are provided, and the overarching theme is fun. All levels are welcome, from those who have never picked up a paintbrush to professional artists.
Local Knappa High School art teacher Janet Hockman Sheridan has been hosting Paint with a Pint nights at the Fort George Lovell Showroom in Astoria on Fridays each month for the past nine months. Sheridan first approached Fort George co-owner Jack Harris with the idea in March 2016 and held the first event two months later. Although only eight people attended that first Paint with a Pint, word of mouth and social media quickly spread the word; Sheridan was soon selling out each month as well as hosting corporate events and private parties.
WineKraft Wine Bar in Astoria, has seen similar success for over a year with a Tipsy Painting event every Wednesday night (and occasionally Sunday afternoons) in the winters. Owner Rebecca Kraft plans to add the event as a cruise ship excursion this May and has considered adding more Tipsy Painting nights this summer as well.
“Our Tipsy Painting events expose new people to my business, and the popularity has grown quickly,” Kraft said. “We’re often sold out, and sometimes they’re practically painting outside the door!”
WineKraft is situated on the docks at Pier 11 at the edge of the Columbia River. Along with a glass of wine or beverage of their choice, participants enjoy the expertise of experienced local artists like Jo Pomeroy-Crockett and Ronni Harris. Tipsy Painting teacher Harris has been an artist for over 40 years and lends her vast experience and techniques during each event. “At the very end, they can’t believe what they’ve created,” Harris said. “I’ve had people dragged into the event by a friend who talked them into coming. Before they leave at the end of the night they’re signing up for the next three events.”
Sheridan has also seen her share of repeat customers. After attending her first Paint with a Pint night, local Laurel Sullivan quickly signed up for three more events. “I feel you get a lot of bang for your buck with a two-hour session, drinks, plenty of time to paint and great conversations. I would not call myself creative, but you would never know by looking at the paintings I bring home at the end of the night,” she said.
Harris spoke further on the attraction of tipsy painting. “Everyone gets their paint groove on and finds their personal style. The paintings all come out different but wonderful,” she said. “Anyone can come out and enjoy without having to invest in art supplies. It can be a safe, comfortable place for a single woman to enjoy a night out, perfect for date night, mom’s night out, co-workers’ night out and girls’ night out. We’ve seen plenty arrive as strangers but leave as lifelong friends.”
In Seaside, the Ashore Hotel is hoping to encourage camaraderie in the community between hotel guests and locals with plans to host its own inaugural Paint Night at Ashore Bar on Thursday, Feb. 2. Hosted by experienced art teacher Ben Schlattman from Buddha Kat Winery, also in Seaside, the new event will be an ongoing paint night every first Thursday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. and will include all art supplies and light appetizers.
Ashore Hotel Operations Director Linh DePledge said,“We want both our hotel guests and our locals to take advantage of this little gem — our great wine and espresso bar here at Ashore. We have local craft brews and organic/biodynamic wines from around the world with great music and delicious provisions.”
The concept of letting go and having fun, along with a previously undiscovered creativity, is another frequent reason given by teachers and participants for the popularity of paint and sip events.
“A comment I frequently hear from adults is, ‘We had so much fun,’” Sheridan said. “I’ve observed this across the board as an art teacher: As we grow older, we become self-conscious, and it suddenly becomes easy to say we are not creative. Because of this, I start the beginning of every Paint with a Pint class by addressing that we tend to lose touch with our creativity as we grow older. I encourage everyone to forget that inner critic and give it a try.”
At the end of any given two-hour Paint with a Pint night (which doesn’t include hours of prep and clean up that go into each event), Sheridan typically walks over with her husband, Lenny, to the Fort George Brewery to wind down before heading home. She spoke of seeing her students also doing the same thing at the Fort with their paintings in hand. “One night, I saw one of my students come down the stairs with her painting, and she just seemed so proud. I have people who are blown away with what they are able to paint — it’s super rewarding to witness.”
Sheridan added, “In reality, we all have an inner artist no matter what our experience. It’s one of the reasons why I love these events so much — I’m always surprised to see 35 people get ready for class, watch it unfold from start to finish and see them proudly walk out with a finished painting. Their faces light up, and that never gets old.”