Whether professional or amateur, there’s more than a few painting classes in Columbus for adults to choose from. Paired with wine and cocktails, or even dedicated to illustrating your pet, these classes are wide-ranging. While each class is taught by a different instructor, their affirmation for students is one and the same. Recently, (614) spoke to four artists who are leading the city’s adult painting trend.
Though Wine & Canvas originated in Indianapolis, it was Michelle Diercks who founded the Columbus branch, noticing the expansion of the art market. “It’s for people who want to come for leisure to relax and enjoy themselves. I find it fascinating when someone’s like ‘Oh, who’s your demographic?’ and there really isn’t one,” she says. “We have kids, girls night out, dates—it’s a really fun environment.” While Wine & Canvas is meant for leisure, as guests indulge in flowing alcohol to relax any first-time painters, Dierck assures participants that the experience will put them at ease. “People are looking for that kind of experience; they want to have a creative outlet but there’s a lot of commitment to trying to pick up an art hobby. This gives them a sample and it’s a safe environment because they’re there to have fun. There’s an instructor that’s helping you,” she says. “The instructor’s not going to critique your work; they’re really there to help and support and to really break it down for you so you understand that it doesn’t have to be perfect.”
Pushed into teaching an adult painting class through his former CCAD professor, Michael McEwan, landscape painter Joe Lombardo centers his classes on plein air painting, meeting guests at parks such as Goodale and Schiller. “I have several lessons where I try to teach them that painting is not precious. I also have to sometimes get them to think differently, because they’ll just come to the class thinking that a painting has to look absolutely real,” Lombardo says. “Accuracy is sometimes given up for expression, it doesn’t have to be perfect and exact.” Associated with various art platforms, including Columbus Cultural Art Center and McConnell Arts Center, Lombardo teaches adult students not to fear the canvas, but to embrace its intimidation to allow room for confidence. “I think that art-making, painting, drawing and self-doubt come hand-in-hand,” he says. “Something about when you’re going to pour yourself into this work of art, and part of making art is not just for you to look at, but for people to see it.”
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Furnished with open windows, long tables covered by brown paper and a canvas space for the owner’s own work, Art With Anna began as a children’s art studio before starting adult classes. “I was in my twenties and I was teaching these adults, parents and grandparents. It was daunting at first, but honestly, they’re just like children,” she says. “There’s this unknowing, and all people want to do is learn how to be better, so it made sense. People just want attention and to be directed and receive guidance and a way to be creative, but that has diminished as we become adults.” Wanting guests to be pleasantly surprised by their crafts once leaving class, Sokol says that painting can be like “ripping the bandaid off”— conquering fear before putting paint brush to canvas. “One of the things I say is, ‘It’s a canvas, not a tattoo,’ ” she says. Getting it perfectly right on a canvas is so debilitating sometimes that I can’t get their mind into perspective, like ‘You are allowed to mess up.’ ”
One step into Maureen Clark’s studio below Chromedge Photo Lab in Franklinton, and you’re fully immersed in works of impressionism, and perhaps a complimentary can of PBR. Much like Wine & Canvas, Clark holds her own Paint & Pour classes once a month at Camelot Cellars, where students can paint their own wine glasses with themes that correlate hand-in-hand with any given holiday that month. “Art is one of those things that’s beyond that language barrier. Art is so interesting because it’s healing, it’s therapeutic,” she says. A former manager of Art With Anna when Anna Sokol had her first child, Clark welcomes guests to bring in their own templates, observing that they ultimately tend to put their own spin on individual works. “There’s always one person in the class that’s overwhelmed and thinking ‘Oh gosh, I could never do this,’ ” she says. “It’s always wonderful at the end to see that they have done it, and sometimes they’re the best ones.”