Paint By Numbers | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Paint By Numbers

Leaving with a finished painting is one of the best parts about classes at Artful Hours or Easely Amused.

Leaving with a finished painting is one of the best parts about classes at Artful Hours or Easely Amused. Photo by Kathleen M. Mitchell.

If anything can improve my painting prowess, it's wine. Of course, having a real artist guide me through the process can't hurt, either.

For me, it's easy to get hung up on the details of the painting, or take too long to choose the perfect hue. By then, I've lost my steam and another half-finished canvas joins the others in a semi-painted cemetery in our house. So thank goodness for the trendy painting-with-wine studios popping in Jackson and around the country. We have two in the metro, Artful Hours in Madison and Easely Amused in Ridgeland (formerly on Lakeland).

Variations on the theme have popped up around the country: "Pinot's Palette," "Painting with a Twist" and "Paint by the Glass," to name a few, but the concept is essentially the same: bring your own wine and leave with a completed painting.

My friend Liz and I had been eyeing the classes for a while and recently jumped at the chance to paint one of our favorites: a streetlight scene, set on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and rendered in bright, primary colors.

When we arrived at Artful Hours, the canvases were already neatly set up on small easels in rows. The staffers instructed us on how much paint to get (three pumps of black, one of light blue, three of dark orange, etc.) and offered a corkscrew to anyone who might need it (which, of course, we did).

I was surprised to see a black Sharpie outline already sketched on most of the canvases. A few were completely blank, by special request, but the basic shape was already on most of them.

The instructor, perched on an elevated platform at the front of the room, led us through the painting, slow enough to keep everyone on track but quick enough to keep people like me from second-guessing our work.

Many of the instructors have art degrees and use the classes as a way to support the creation of their own art. The instructors come up with the original paintings (unless they are emulating a famous work of art, such as Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night"), and then teach students to recreate their work.

In some classes, students create the same basic image (say, a fleur de lis) in colors of their choosing. Other times the instruction is even looser--paint your favorite animal, for example, and the instructor offers more individualized advice.

Of course, participants are welcome to deviate from the rest of the class as much as they'd like--it is, after all, your painting to take home at the end of the night--but most of us followed along pretty closely, only adding minor changes or individual touches. One student on my row painted the scene backward--a mirror image rather than direct copy of the instructor's example.

Both Artful Hours and Easely Amused offer special events, such as date nights for couples. At these couple sessions, each person might paint half of a diptych painting (two painting panels meant to hang next to each other to show the full image, or paint each other a particular style, such as Picasso's). Kids' classes and private bookings are also options.

The class isn't a place for art snobs. After all, close to 100 (or more) other people in the Jackson metro have a version of the painting that now rests atop my bookshelf. (The Bourbon Street painting is one of the more popular classes). Some of them are much, much better than mine. But a finished painting that I created now sits in my house, and that's what matters to me--plus, I had a blast with a good friend. It's really more about the experience. An adult paint-by-numbers project, if you will.

To find out more about Easely Amused (7048 Old Canton Road, Suite 1002, Ridgeland, 601-707-5854), visit easely or email [email protected] For more on Artful Hours (111 Colony Crossing, Suite 200, Madison, 270-604-3418), find Artful Hours on Facebook or email [email protected] for more information.

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