By Kim Hone-McMahan Akron Beacon Journal.
Holding a piece of flatbread pizza in one hand and a paint brush in the other, Patti Kurtz leaned in, careful to get each stroke just right. After all, her 90-year-old mother is an artist and she wanted to do her proud.
It was Wine & Canvas night at Hudson's Restaurant in Montrose, Ohio, and Kurtz was there with her daughter and two daughters-in-law.
"This relieves stress," she said, noting it was her third time attending one of the events. "It was so much fun the first time. I loved it. I mean, I really loved it and couldn't wait to come back."
Wine & Canvas is mostly a mobile business that takes its painting parties to places like bars, corporate events and living rooms. It provides everything needed, including an artist instructor to help participants paint their own masterpieces.
During the recent event at Hudson's, artist Christa Moore of Springfield Township, Ohio, was giving 31 aspiring Picassos step-by-step instructions to re-create a painting of bright flower blooms. Attendees mimicked her strokes.
"The only way I would do this is if I had a drink," joked Andrea Easterling, a nurse at the Cleveland Clinic who attended with relatives. "It's nurse-gone-wild-night."
Like a hungry group sitting down to dinner, there was a lot of giggling and chatter before the class members picked up paint brushes. But after the first stroke, the room quieted to conversations that, at times, were barely above a whisper. The women teased that the hush was the result of intense concentration.
Wine & Canvas has its corporate offices in Indianapolis, with franchises scattered across the nation. One of those is in Strongsville, Ohio, and serves clients in the state from Mentor to North Canton.
"People say I don't know about drinking wine and painting. I explain, 'You know how after a couple of drinks you can dance better? It's the same thing here,'" joked Joanne Rhodes, who owns the local franchise with her sister, Liz Coram. "Drinking while you are painting makes the whole experience fun. But you don't have to drink. You can do whatever you want, maybe something like a girls' night out."
Cost for the class, which lasts two to three hours, is $35. The paint, an apron and brushes are supplied. A 16 x 20 wrapped canvas of your artwork, which you take home, is included in the price. Every month, a sample picture of what will be offered at each class is posted on the company's website calendar.
While no money is exchanged between Wine & Canvas and the business that's providing space for the classes, participants often buy drinks and food. The classes are held during a day of the week with fewer diners.
"It's definitely good for business and good for publicity," said Chris O'Grady, manager of Hudson's, noting that the fledging artists are likely to return for lunch or dinner at another time. "We love it."
While it's understandable to think that Rhodes and Coram must be artists themselves, that's not the case.
"We both stink," Rhodes said, laughing. "I cannot draw a stick figure. In fact, I do the classes sometimes and I'm always the worst one in the class. In fact, I don't want people to know I own this (franchise) when I paint. I will say, though, that I've improved. I'm amazed at what I've learned."
Currently, the siblings' franchise holds about 18 public and 50 private classes a month. By May 1, they hope to have a studio open in Strongsville. Rhodes expects more men will be drawn to the studio. And, eventually, they will offer "Cookies & Canvas," painting classes for children.
As the gals were busy dipping their brushes in the dollops of white, blue, green, red, orange and yellow paint, a couple leaving the restaurant could be heard talking about them:
"Look at that, they are painting and drinking wine," the woman told her companion. The man grinned. "They know how to party."