I've wanted to experience a paint bar since the first time I saw a friend's proud post on Facebook. She was holding up what appeared to be a professional painting of a whimsical tree. Though not a particularly creative or artistic person, she was indeed the artist behind the masterpiece, and all it took was some step-by-step instruction and a little alcohol.
I recently celebrated a friend's 30th birthday at Wauwatosa's trendy new spot, Arté Wine & Paint on Underwood Avenue, and got to experience this artsy craze for myself.
The space is large enough to accommodate over 20 people in a class, and has a separate paint bar area for the artists who are ready to be more independent. But it is cozy and bright, decorated with the colorful paintings they feature and kitschy details like chalkboard walls in the bathroom.
We put on our smocks, sat down at our canvasses and checked out the paint and brushes that were already set out for us. I've heard it been said that there is nothing scarier to look at than a blank canvas, but our instructor made us feel at ease and in good hands.
Our paintings would be of the Milwaukee skyline at night, with a sunset or sunrise reflecting off of Lake Michigan.
In the beginning of the class, the instructor told us which brushes to use, which colors to mix and added pointers and brief lessons when necessary. We watched closely as she painted her own version, and I scoffed at my own painting's apparent shortcomings.
But by the end, the room had grown a little rowdier and it seemed that our apprehension was replaced with creative freedom. Each person's painting took on its own character.
Perhaps it was the drinks.
Arte offers a nice variety of wines and cocktails to loosen your inhibitions. There are non-alcoholic options for those not partaking.
Our class was filled with groups of friends out for a fun night and couples on dates. Arte offers private parties and team-building events as well.
By the end of the two-hour lesson, we were putting the finishing touches on our masterpieces and I didn't want the night to end. I felt like a child in art class again and it seemed like I had activated a part of my brain that hadn't been exercised in a while.
I'll definitely visit again for another class or try out the Paint Bar on my own for a self-guided night of wine and painting. What could be a better stress-reliever at the end of a long work week?
For their schedule of classes and to see which paintings you can paint, click here.
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