Aspiring painters and entertainment seekers alike sit in a room with painting tools. The walls are covered in paintings completed in previous classes. In the middle front of the room stands an extroverted instructor with two canvasses. One is blank; the other is a completed version of the night’s painting.
“Hello, do we have any returning visitors?” asks Myriam Rutland, an instructor at the studio. “OK, well do we have any first-time visitors?”
Hand after hand raised in the air as Rutland exclaimed over the new students.
“... OK guys, I’ve placed some extra paper towels around the tables,” Rutland said. “You should have at least one paper towel in front of you, one brush and a cup of water.”
Added Rutland, “If you are drinking, make sure you don’t put your brush in your drink.”
Students are given their paint on a disposable plate. The instructor takes the class through a step-by-step process from beginning to end during the two-hour painting fest.
“My goal is to inspire everybody to find the artist inside of them. So many people think they cannot do it and I want them to see they can. I want to provide a fun night away where they can put everything else out of their mind and paint,” Wilkins said.
First-time attendees Robin McDaniel, Candy Rayfield, Debbie Farmer and Gretchen Collins attended a Create and Celebrate class as a girls’ night activity.
“We heard about the studio off of Groupon,” Collins said. “It was something new and it turned out to be a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs.”
Farmer and Rayfield were ready for the challenge.
“We can do it,” said Rayfield and Farmer together.
Neither Rayfield or Farmer described themselves as painters. The two agreed they would be happy to return to the party art studio.
“It was a great opportunity to create something and meet other people while painting,” Farmer said. “My skills do not include painting, but I was not insecure during the lesson. Everybody was really helpful.”
Debbie Jones and Janice Duff both agreed they would return to the studio for another show.
“This is something entirely different in Cleveland,” Jones said. “The instructors were so easy to work with and now I have a potential gift to give someone.”
Part of the experience is people painting something they never realized they could, Wilkins said.
“If there is a part that needs to be chalked in then we will do that for them if they are nervous,” Wilkins said. “We want them to go home with something they are proud of. If they ask us then we will assist them.”
Participants sit at one of three sets of tables lined across the room. Strangers who sit down next to one another can be seen laughing throughout the two hours.
“I want it to be a fun and not a serious art lesson,” Wilkins said. “We try to put music on that everyone can sing along to. Our atmosphere is a product of the room itself. It inspires a sense of comfort.”
During a recent lesson, Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” came on the radio. Students chuckled appreciatively and then, over the buzz of conversation, humming could be heard. Soon participants across the room joined together in song. More subdued participants and the instructors alike smiled and laughed.
“I want my instructors to be great with people. I want them to have a bubbly personality and, at the same time, have some art experience,” Wilkins said.
There are currently two instructors at the studio and one assistant. The studio hosts three to four shows a week. Wilkins said she would like to see these numbers increase.
“Busy is good ... as long as I do not have to teach every class,” Wilkins said with a laugh. “Most of the paintings are beginner level, but there are a few intermediate. There were advanced courses, but those were not as popular.”
Create and Celebrate shares a space with Wilkin’s faux and decorative painting business, Fabulous Finishes LLC.
“I was working in an office and needed a creative outlet,” Wilkins said. “I began decorating ornaments and selling them at craft shows.”
Several decorative classes later and Wilkins opened Fabulous Finishes in 2000. Ten years later, Wilkins decided to join the party art movement and opened Create and Celebrate.
“I have had a good reaction from the community,” Wilkins said. “They say it is cheaper than therapy.”
Wilkins tries to keep the paintings chosen for shows simple. She said her work with interior decorating gives her an idea of what people like and what is popular in homes. According to Wilkins, inspiration is found everywhere.
“Inspiration can be found while driving down the road, looking through a magazine, or even watching TV. When I get an idea I write it down on a piece of paper. When we have time, the instructors and I will choose something off the list and create a new painting,” Wilkins said.
The Create and Celebrate website has information on pricing, group parties, and the paintings set for the month. The calendar gives a picture and price for each event set for a particular month. Those interested can choose their favorite painting, or paintings, and sign up for the classes online.
“This is a great opportunity for church groups and other organizations whose members want to come together,” Wilkins said. “Its a great opportunity and anyone can do it.”
For more information visit the website at createandcelebratestudio.com or call 423-339-4700.