Learn to paint, drink some wine, and hang out with your friends–what could be better?
As music plays through the speakers, a class full of Richmond’s amateur art students laughs and learns over drinks and appetizers at Wine & Design, the only fully-functioning paint-party studio and café in Virginia.
The studio, which sits at 2707 W. Broad Street, is owned by North Carolina native Layne Ashley Summerfield, who followed a career in sales to Richmond in 2008.
“I was not fulfilled with what I was doing,” she says about her former position in medical sales. Now a business owner, she says she’s proud to bring Richmonders joy and happiness through a community activity.
“This is a very art and wine-focused area,” she says of the many museums and wineries nearby. “What could be more perfect than mixing the two?”
The concept is simple: to-be artists register online at wineanddesignvirginia.com and select a preferred date and painting; then they show up with their own wine at no corkage fee, or they can buy local craft beer and wine on-site. Food is also available for purchase.
Because many students who take the class have never painted before, the two-hour course for beginners includes paint, brushes, a canvas, and a lesson—all for $35.
“People who never picked up a paintbrush or experienced art can be creative,” says Summerfield. The idea is to create art in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
Abernathy Bland, one of the artists who guides the students as they paint their own masterpiece, stresses that the class is part party and part lesson. Each class, she integrates artistic terminology, vocabulary, and technique.
“We educate you without you knowing it,” she says. You don’t realize you’re learning because it’s a blast.
The artwork varies from Van Gogh’s Starry Night to pictures of the James River and the Richmond skyline. Pet owners can learn to paint their pet’s photos, and couples can paint their dates in a Picasso-like style. Each artist leads the students through the piece step-by-step.
“Oftentimes, people walk in proclaiming they are scared to death, but every single one of them comes out with a piece that rocks,” says Bland. “You are there for two hours and you leave feeling confident, and while you are there you had fun.”
“Regardless if you hang it on your wall, or put it under your bed, you won’t lose anything by coming,” says Summerfield.
Bland, one of the local artists employed by Wine & Design, says that Richmond is in the midst of a big art and creativity push, and the studio serves to liven up the community by engaging people who may not typically feel connected to the movement.
“Whatever we can do that gets on board with that movement is a great thing,” she says. “It helps fuel the same creative push for me as an artist.”
Although the studio has been hosting classes for a couple months, they celebrated their grand opening this past Friday, in conjunction with First Fridays Art Walk.
Wine and Design’s calendar is posted on their website and features nightly classes on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. The studio is also open to private parties including girls’ night out, date night, corporate events, and kid’s birthday parties (Art BUZZ Kids).
“A lot of our private parties are work events,” says Bland. “That’s really a fun thing to do. It shakes people up and reinvigorates them within their team.”
Abernathy Bland is a local Richmond artist. Her work and contact information can be found on her blog.
Photos by: Joe Hussa