|Studio invites guests to paint and sip|
|Written by Deborah Stone|
It’s not so much the actual process of painting that brings people into Canvas! Paint and Sip Studio, but rather the experience of being with a group of people engaged in a creative pursuit together.
“It’s just a fun activity to do with friends,” explains MJ Robison, owner of the Kirkland business. “It’s therapeutic and relaxing, and you don’t have to worry about whether you’re artistic or not. Our artistic team members, all who are passionate about art, show you how to paint a specific picture, guiding you step-by-step, and everyone leaves with a completed painting.”
The subject matter, which varies from day-to-day, includes such scenes as the Seattle skyline and the Eiffel Tower, as well as floral arrangements, nature settings, champagne glasses and wine bottles, musical instruments, animals and holiday themes.
“We are focused on offering enough paintings often enough to allow people the chance to paint the one they want,” says Robison.
“We introduce new subject matter each month, but we also keep some of the popular ones around.” She notes that all of the paintings emphasize bright colors, adding, “They’re cheerful, happy paintings because living here, we definitely need a contrast to all this Northwest grayness.”
Guided painting sessions, which include all materials and instruction, are offered at specific times during the day and evening, as well as on weekends.
For those who just want to come and do their own thing, however, there are also various scheduled open painting periods.
While painting, guests can imbibe in a beverage or two from the studio’s full-service bar, and when the pictures are drying, they can peruse assorted items made by local artisans that are available for sale in the small boutique within the studio.
“We want to support local vendors,” says Robison, “and we’ve chosen some really nice gift items. We put them up front by the windows to attract people passing by and I think they add to the whole art gallery vibe. They’re inviting and get people to come inside. Once they enter, they see how upbeat the place is and how unintimidating it is.”
Robison, who runs Canvas! with her daughter Laura, has a background in business and consulting, but she’s always been involved with art.
For several years, she owned a number of paint-your-own-pottery shops in Washington, Oregon and Virginia.
The paint-and-sip concept attracted her attention because she thought the idea of partnering wine with art was the perfect combination. “It really married the experience,” she adds.
The local woman notes that the concept is not new, as there are several similar type studios around the country.
She says, “It’s been very popular, especially in the South. What’s great about it is that everyone, young and old, can participate.”
Canvas! has special family days with discounted rates for kids under 12 and is also available for children’s birthday parties. Additionally, it hosts bridal showers, bachelorette parties and corporate events, among other occasions.
“Companies really seem to like to use the experience for team-building sessions,” comments Robison. “It doesn’t require any special ability. Anyone can do it and everyone accomplishes something by the end of the session. It’s a great way to bring people together.”
As for working with her daughter, Robison remarks that the situation is very rewarding.
She comments that Laura, who is a recent UW grad in communications, brings a fresh approach to the business, as well as skills in event planning.
So far, Kirkland is the only location for Canvas! but Robison hopes to open other studios in the area in the future. She chose Kirkland because of its reputation for supporting the arts and for its sense of community.
“There couldn’t be a better place to open the first one,” she says. “The space is great. It’s full of light and it’s in an ideal location that gets a lot of foot traffic. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback since we opened last July.”
Robison and her daughter spent four months getting the studio ready and they set the benchmark high with the intent to use this first location as the template for additional locales.
“It’s such a fun business because people want to come here and they have a great time,” she says. “They leave happy and that makes us feel good. That’s our reward.”