By Saundra Amrhein
There is no shortage of glimmering, white-sand beaches, charming beach towns, wineries, museums and nature trails to visit throughout Northwest Florida. Now on your vacation, you can take a different journey – into your own creative talents. Thanks to the region’s bountiful offerings of drop-in art classes, there are plenty of artistic endeavors to try with the whole family when you want to come indoors and out of the sun for a few hours – from pottery, to glass blowing, belly dancing and stained glass, to a night of painting and wine, to unveiling those poems of yours during an evening of open-mic spoken word.
Here’s a list of some fun, creative options throughout Northwest Florida:
First City Arts Center
First City Arts Center in Pensacola is a community-minded arts and cultural center that encourages a hands-on approach for all ages in an atmosphere where “ideas collide” and “inspiration is free.” An extensive variety of workshops includes everything from glassblowing to pottery and clay; drawing and painting; to metal casting; Shakespeare; Zumba and yoga. In many cases, experience is not necessary. Some workshops last a few hours, some several days and others a few weeks. The center also welcomes visitors to drop-in on other events, such as Free Verse Friday Open-Mic Night, where guests can come to hear or be heard; or Life Drawing events, the drawing of a live model, open to the public every Monday night. For more information on prices, workshops, classes and schedules, visit: firstcityart.org.
Pink Picasso gallery and studio in historic downtown Pensacola helps the inexperienced or budding artist create his or her own masterpiece in one sitting. Starting with a pre-sketched, 16-inch x 20-inch canvas, guests are guided through the painting process by an instructor. If you’re traveling with the whole family, plan a private party with a minimum of four people. You can even pick the drawing that you would like your group to paint. Or drop in on open art sessions held three to four days a week. Kids are welcome, too, especially if celebrating their birthday and parents want to plan a special, creative party and event. Canvasses for children are smaller and they or parents can pick the painting from a selection of themes or call ahead with an idea of their own. pinkpicasso.net.
Beach Art Group
Beach Art Group in Panama City brings fun through art to the area through a range of activities, from paint parties, to exhibitions, classes and workshops, both indoors and outside. Two-hour Paint Parties are held every day except Sunday, with all supplies and step-by-step instruction provided. No experience is necessary. Guests are invited to bring a favorite snack or beverage. Friends, family and couples can call ahead and plan a private painting party. For those budding artists who want a little more, the art group also holds workshops across several days on specific themes, such as painting with acrylics, oil or watercolors. Classes are also available for both children and adults in drawing and painting. The group also hosts Plein Air Tuesdays, which are held outside at different locations every Tuesday between 9 a.m. and noon. Guests can drop in any Tuesday they would like by just showing up with their paints. The approach differs from studio painting and emphasizes quicker painting in order to capture certain lighting. Everyone – from beginners to advanced painters – is welcome. beachartgroup.com.
Copy Cats, a paint-and-sip studio in Tallahassee, seeks to combine art, fun, family and friends. Listen to music as you, your significant other or friends take a step-by-step guided painting class. Bring your favorite appetizers or snacks and wine or beer and pour yourself a glass before you settle in at an easel – all the paint and supplies provided. Or create a custom door-hanger. Go home at the end of the session with your new masterpiece. Public sessions are open to adults and teens ages 18 and up. The little ones ages 8 and up can enjoy a parent-free two-hour art session as well at Kids Club, usually the second Saturday of the month, when they can explore bright colors and shades across a big canvas. Other featured events include Mommy and Me or Daddy and Me classes, catering to a parent and child ages 6 and up. Guests can book a private party with a minimum of 10 people. copycatsstudio.com.
Painting With a Twist
Painting With a Twist, a painting and wine- or beer-sipping business based in Louisiana with franchises and locations in more than 30 sites across Florida, has locations in Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee, and one coming to Fort Walton Beach. Experience is not necessary. Guests are guided through a painting session, brush stroke by brush stroke, by an artist during an evening of fun with friends or family or while making new friends in a social setting. At the three current locations, adults are invited to bring their favorite wine or beer and snacks to enjoy during the art class. For more information, visit: paintingwithatwist.com/panama-city.
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