Paint, Sip, Learn

Interactive art goes Uptown

When he was still living in Tennessee, Robert Mishkin reluctantly went with a date to one of the many Uptown Art studios peppered throughout the United States. He was pretty sure he’d hate what is often referred to as a “paint and sip” experience.

“I’m no painter—not even close to being an artist,” Mishkin says of his wariness about visiting the Nashville outlet, which, like other Uptown Art venues, focuses on both education and entertainment (and throws in a glass of wine to sweeten the deal). “But, in my experience, it is always a good idea to do what your date wants you to do. Well, I actually liked it and ultimately went back several times.”

Although he’d left Bellingham a few years previously and had since retired, Mishkin eventually decided to return to the Pacific Northwest. As he was retracing his cross-country trek, the idea came to him that perhaps Bellingham could use its own Uptown Art Studio. Not long afterward, he was exiting retirement and signing papers signifying he was an official licensor of the fine arts franchise. 

A little more than a month after opening, Mishkin is confident he made the right move. Those who have been signing up for the classes—which cater to both beginners and more advanced painters—seem to be responding well to the concept studio, which sees patrons receiving stroke-by-stoke guidance by local artists such as Amy Hill, Jessie Carlson, Jayne Baron, Patti Fairbanks, Leah Rees, and Karen Theusen. When the class comes to an end, attendees go home with a finished painting.

And, if for any reason they’re not happy with the experience, Uptown Art offers a money-back guarantee. So far, Mishkin says, he’s heard nothing but good things from the burgeoning artists.

“Actually, in many ways we prefer those who are not adept at painting and are not traditionally considered painters or fine artists,” Mishkin says. “Our patrons seek us out because they may have always wanted to paint but were intimidated, or didn’t want to commit to a lengthy, time-consuming and structured art class.

“At Uptown Art Studio we offer a painting experience, but in a warm, relaxed, inviting and entertaining atmosphere. It is true, after one of our events, a patron may be inspired and search for a more traditional art class; or they may return to our studio and register for another event, this time a more complex painting.”

With classes focusing on themes such as “Mountain Landscapes,” “Horses,” “Ballerina Shoes,” “Sailboat,” “Vincent Van Gogh’s Apple Blossom” and “Lonely Beach”—plus family-friendly instruction every Saturday for those who’d like to bring kids along—there’s likely to be something that will draw the attention of just about everyone.

As for Mishkin, he’s much more comfortable calling himself an artist these days.

“Over the years I have come to understand and appreciate the ‘artist within’ each of us,” he says. “It is this ‘artist’ that creates the personal fingerprint on what would otherwise be boring, nondescript processes or products.

“If we are successful at Uptown Art Studio, it will be because we connected with our community and provided an entertaining, casual and un-intimidating venue where the expression by our many ‘artists within’ can occur.  I too am an artist, not a painting or fine artist, but one who looks for and finds the art in everything.”

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