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Painting, alcohol interesting mixture

By Lori Pometo

Point Park News Service

Eric Applebaum, who does not have painting experience, took a long sip of Fat Cat Pinot Grigio before attempting the tight brush strokes needed to replicate Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” at a studio in Murrysville.

Photo Courtesy of Corks and Canvases

Cindy Adams, who has a glass in her hand as well, calculated her first step in recreating the whimsical stars in Van Gogh’s masterpiece.

“This [painting] seemed like a good way to relieve stress and chill out for a night,” said Applebaum.

The Pittsburgh region is already soaked in a rich and colorful art scene which includes dozens of local galleries, such as the Andy Warhol Museum. Now through the locally owned studios like Corks and Canvases and Paint Monkey, non-painters can get involved.

Bring Your Own Bottle (BYOB) painting classes are popping up all over the country in cities like New York, Columbus, Chicago, Orlando and Los Angeles.

A group by the name of Colors and Bottles hold its events at local restaurants and bars in each city while other companies such as Painting with a Twist work out of their own studios.

At Corks and Canvases in Murrysville, instructor Libby Rhoades gave a brief rundown on the post-impressionist Van Gogh as they drank and got ready to paint.

Rhoades, 29, has been an instructor at Corks and Canvases since it opened in October and has six classes under her belt. She has her degree in writing from the University of Pittsburgh but considers art to be her “first love”.

She gave guidance to intimidated painters while encouraging them to think outside the box while “Any Way You Want It” by Journey played in the background.

“If you don’t like something you’ve done take a step back, walk around, and look at what everyone else is doing,” said Rhoades. “Van Gogh was mentally ill so you want your piece to represent that. You want your brushstrokes to be mad.”

Applebaum and Adams are among some of the first to try out the newly opened Corks and Canvases studio in Murrysville.

Applebaum, 23, does not consider himself to be the “artistic type,” but sees painting as a good outlet for stress. This was his first post-high school trip to an art studio. He painted timidly at first and then after getting into a groove, his facial expression became intense as he worked hard to perfect the subdued town.

He became impatient while waiting for further instruction and he took it among himself to add his own touches. His free-spirited approach to painting the “Starry Night” landscape got him in a little bit of trouble with Cindy, who was more cautious and liked to keep to a certain order.

“I don’t think you need to be good at it to have a good time,” said Applebaum.

His strokes were blurry and his painting looked like an unfocused photograph. He wants to give it to his mother as a Christmas gift.

Adams, 23, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania student from Hopewell, has a long history with art, but not studio art. She was a dancer for most of her life and enjoys all things “artsy.”

“I wanted to try something new for date night [with Applebaum],” said Adams as the Phil Collins tune “Easy Lover” wafted across the room.

She, unlike Applebaum, had a more reserved and calculated way of approaching her painting. She did not do anything without being told, the exception being drinking her wine. Her painting was more childlike and included out of place stars and a huge moon. She too thought of giving the painting away.

The couple said they would return for another night of painting and drinking.

Corks and Canvases, located off of Route 22 in Murrysville, offers two-hour classes for $35. Anyone 15-years-old and older is welcome to attend, but you must be over 21 to drink alcohol. If a customer is not finished, they can return at a later date to finish their painting-free of charge.

They have private parties for children’s birthdays, team-building events, and bachelorette parties. There needs to be at least eight people for an event. You can register online

Paint Monkey is located inside the Ice House complex off of 43rd Street in Lawrenceville. They offer two-hour classes for $35 and three-hour classes for $45. They also have a special class called “Paint Your Pet” where a person can send in a picture of their pet so it can be pre-drawn on canvas. The owner can then come in to the studio and paint a picture of their pet. This event is $60.

Paint Monkey also hosts private parties for children’s birthdays, team-building events, as well as bachelorette, holiday, and family parties. You can register online

Colors and Bottles does not have its own studio, but is located at local bars and restaurants around the city. Some of the businesses include Beerhive in the Strip District, Birmingham Bridge Tavern on the South Side, Giovanni’s Pizza and Pasta Downtown and The Modern Café on the North Side. Colors and Bottles offer two-hour classes for $35. They also offer private parties such as children’s birthdays and corporate team-building. You can register online

All of the classes are BYOB with the exception of Colors and Bottles. There are restrictions on what venues allow a patron to bring their own alcohol. Buying from the establishment is encouraged. All painting supplies are provided.

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