Toledo Magazine: Art parties help people tap into their creative sides

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    Sarah Sodd holds up her painting to get a better look at the finished product during class at Kingston Care Center in Sylvania. The class has been held monthly for about three years by artist Gerg Justus.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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  • If the words “let’s paint” or “let’s create art” cause your creative-strapped brain to send shudders down your unimaginative spine, fear no more.

    Painting parties, which in the last five years have exploded in popularity, are for everyone, say the artists who teach the classes.

    “I would say about 99 percent of the people have never touched a paintbrush before, or say they don’t have any artistic ability,” said Jamie Hanifan, 27, owner of Pop It Paint It studio in Waterville. “I direct them in these classes to find their creativity. I really want to see them go home with something that they love. Everybody has a vision, and my goal is to help you accomplish that.”

    “Paint and Sip” venues, some franchises, and others privately owned like Pop It Paint It are opening everywhere, inviting individuals to create a personalized painting from a blank canvas, guided step-by-step by an instructor. Both kids and adults can sign up for group painting sessions. You can come with friends for a girls night out, or by yourself. You can opt for a date night or plan a private painting session for a birthday party.

    Or come paint just because.

    Nationally, some of the top painting franchises are Wine and Design, Pinot’s Palette, and Painting with a Twist, the largest with more than 340 venues nationwide, according to Forbes Magazine.

    Most painting studios offer different subjects at painting events. At adult events, venues celebrate a BYOB theme, with an emphasis on bringing the painting experience home with a glass of wine by your side.

    Local artist Lori Strohmaier, 42, sees the painting events as bonding experiences that are part art, part entertainment. Since 2016, she has been doing painting events for Paint Nite, a company that, unlike most of the painting studios, does not have an anchor store but instead bases its events in existing bars.

    “Relationships are the only thing that really lasts, so having fun and doing something different is what’s important,” Ms. Strohmaier said. “I always tell people to embrace the artists in themselves, because art is really an expression of an individual, and we are just there to have fun.”

    Local artist Greg Justus has a slightly different audience a few times a month when he teaches group painting to senior facility residents interested in tapping into their creative sides. He recently guided seven women at Kingston Care Center of Sylvania to create a water scene of islands, trees, and birds with acrylic hues of orange, blue, yellow, and black.

    “I like all of those brush strokes; it looks like a bunch of little trees,” Mr. Justus said to painter Sarah Sodd, 59.

    Ms. Sodd dipped her paintbrush in the black paint.

    “I’ve never really considered myself an artsy, crafty kind of person, but I’ve really come to love it,” Ms. Sodd said. “The way he teaches it allows us to come up with a decent finished project.”

    Class costs range from $20 to $45. Locally, check out,,,, or

    Contact Roberta Gedert at, 419-724-6075 or on Twitter @RoGedert.