By Saundra Amrhein
If you’re a vacationing couple or family visiting Southwest Florida and looking for a variety of fun options between long days at white-sand beaches, waterparks or pristine nature preserves, try feeding your artistic soul.
Thanks to the burgeoning popularity of drop-in social art classes surging across the state, visitors have plenty of stimulating artistic activities, from wine-filled nights learning to paint on canvass, to workshops on beer making to that pottery class you always wanted to try.
Here’s a list of great picks when you’re looking for hands-on artsy fun outside of the sun.
- Vino’s Picasso, with locations in Fort Myers and Naples and seasonal classes on Matlacha Island, this shop is a paint bar and art gallery owned and operated by local artists. Visitors can bring their own wine and enjoy step-by-step instructions in a painting class together as a couple, with friends or as a family. No experience is needed. Visitors are also welcome to take a leisurely walk through the Starving Artist’s Gallery, stop for a glass of wine or craft beer at the wine bar, or shop for hand-made gifts that are for sale. If you’re traveling with a lot of relatives or having a family reunion, private painting parties can be scheduled for a minimum of 10 people most days and 15 people on Friday and Saturday evenings. Aspiring painters can choose between a two-hour class on canvass, wine glass or memory box; or a three-hour class on canvass only. For more information on prices and schedules, visit: vinospicasso.com.
- The Painted Conch in Cape Coral encourages visitors to “relax – create – express yourself!” The hybrid art studio and wine bar helps visitors complete original works of art in the company of family or friends while listening to music and enjoying a favorite beverage, either brought along or purchased at the bar. Private group parties are available for a minimum of 15 guests for adults and 10 guests for children, who are treated with juice, soda, milk or water. For groups, instructors can help them create a custom painting based on their interests. For prices, schedules and more information, visit: thepaintedconch.com.
- Brushes and Bottles classes are held in Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, as well as across the state in Miami and Pembroke Pines. The step-by-step acrylic painting classes are great for beginners or advanced painters and include pairings with fine wines. Students’ work will be ready to take home and hang on the wall after the two-hour sessions. Framing is also available for purchase. Private parties and private lessons can be obtained as well. For more information, visit: brushesandbottles.com.
- The Naples Art Association, which strives to promote education and participation in the visual arts, offers art classes at all levels and in many areas. For instance, take the Intuitive Art & Yoga class and enjoy one hour of a Kundalini yoga session followed by a one hour intuitive art class that includes a guided painting session using acrylic paints. Or enjoy a three-hour Wine & Dezine workshop with friends, a loved one or on your own, making new friends in a group class that takes you step-by-step through painting your own personal masterpiece that you can take home with you. Regularly running lectures include dinners with artists. Or for visitors on longer stays, enjoy the four-week adult classes that teach everything from wheel and hand-building pottery, to painting with water colors, acrylics, to drawing, sculpture and more. For more information, visit: naplesart.org.
- The Art Bar – River District on Dean Street in Fort Myers offers a variety of drop-in art classes in its cozy brick-walled setting. One night you could be enjoying a wine and paint party, being guided through an acrylic painting lesson with a local artist. And another you might be making your own wind chime cut from glass and kiln-fired pieces, designing fused glass pendants, or using recycled crushed bottles to create glass masterpieces. The bar also has hosted beer Homebrewing 101 nights. For more information on artistic activities, visit: artbarfortmyers.com.
- Bisque It Studio in Port Charlotte promises creative fun for the whole family of all age groups. From pottery painting to glass fusing to clay hand building and canvas painting, instructors guide visitors each step of the way. No experience is necessary. In glass fusing classes, visitors can make everything from pendants to coasters, candy dishes and candle holders to platters and more. In the Wine & Design Canvas Painting class, instructors will guide visitors as they tackle their own masterpiece, which they can bring home at the end of the evening, after enjoying a glass of wine and favorite snack brought by guests. During a Minion Madness class, children ages 5 and older can join in on the fun and paint a Minion canvas. Guests traveling with large numbers of relatives can book a group party package. For more information on prices and class schedules, visit: bisqueitstudio.com.
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