Laura McCarthy used to be an IT director. Then she was invited by a friend to a Sips n Strokes session in Franklin, TN, and she fell in love with the concept.
“When I was leaving my first class, I thought, ‘No one leaves my meetings all happy and smiling like this,’ ” said McCarthy.
That prompted McCarthy to open her own store at W249N5267 Executive Dr. in Sussex. The grand opening is Thursday, but the business has a "soft opening" on Tuesday, where employees held a practice run teaching and helping students learn to paint.
The idea behind the business is to give people who enjoy art but may have never tried it before a chance to create their own painting in a couple of hours.
Ian Anastas, one of the five teachers at Sips n Strokes is an artist and graphic designer who said he wanted to help other people enjoy making art.
“Sips n Strokes has a cool, laid-back atmosphere. It’s a fun concept and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.
In a class, students each receive a canvas and then paint while a teacher goes through the techniques.
“I like that it’s a step-by-step process. You don’t feel like you’re falling behind and you can visually see what to do when the teacher demonstrates,” said customer Nicki Hoepner, who attend a class on Tuesday.
Most of the paintings are from designs by the company's founder, Wendy LoVoy. But there also are original designs and some derivatives of famous works, like Van Gogh’s "Starry Night."
Classes are three hours long and cater to people who have little or no experience with painting.
“Most often we hear people say, ‘I can’t even draw a stick person’ before the class, but afterwards they say, ‘I can’t believe I did this,’ ” McCarthy said.
Customers who attended Tuesday's class said they enjoyed painting with friends.
“I liked this class because it was fun being with my friends and doing something I wouldn’t do on my own,” said Julie Bobb.
All supplies are provided, including brushes, paint, canvas, and an easel. Beer, wine, Long Island ice tea, mudslides and soft drinks are available for purchase to sip while you paint.
Reservations are suggested, and can be made on the website or by calling 262-246-9400. It costs $35 to paint the standard 16-inch-by-20-inch canvas, and larger sizes are also available.
Kids over age 12 are welcome to come to the adult classes with an adult. There will also be kids classes for children ages 6 to 12 every other Saturday starting on March 26 that will cost $25.
The private party room can hold 15 to 25 people for bachelorette parties and corporate team-building events.