Ocotillo studio mixes art with a fun time - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Ocotillo studio mixes art with a fun time

September 5th, 2019 development
Ocotillo studio mixes art with a fun time

Staff Writer

Nothing beats a beer on the beach, but those that couldn’t make it to the waves can find solace from the heat while putting on extra coats inside.

Uptown Art is taking traditional weeknight and weekend activities outside the lines by offering sip and paint classes, in which customers can transform to their most creative self while sipping on their favorite beverage.

The daily art classes allow even those without any creative inclination to dip their brushes in the world of painting.

Not everyone is a natural-born Van Gogh, but owner Katie Quinn said a little alcohol can go a long way by means of creativity.

“Don’t get me wrong — some paintings you need to have a little faith in, but I feel like no matter what if people have a glass of wine in their hands, things are going to work out for them,” Quinn said.

Like many of the customers that walk through the doors to Uptown Art, after graduating from business school in Florida years ago, an art studio was the last place Quinn thought she would thrive.

 However, after working her way up the chain from assistant to manager at a Florida-based Uptown Art location Quinn said she developed a love for bridging amateur painters with professional results.

“It was just so the opposite of what I thought I wanted. I literally fell into the position and the world was in color for the first time,” Quinn said, laughing at the realization art-based jokes are now at the core of her humor.

Quinn’s time spent at her dream job was short-lived as she moved to Arizona to be closer to family and be a stay-at-home mom for her newborn.

“I absolutely loved staying home and being with my son, but a huge part of me also missed my job and the environment there,” Quinn said, adding:

“I never thought I’d have the chance to work in an environment like that ever again.”

Two years after moving, Quinn got a phone call asking if she’d be willing to adopt a new studio from the franchise in Chandler.

The location, Quinn said, is Arizona’s only Uptown Art studio and has served as a groundbreaking revelation to locals that date night doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

“We try to make it very accessible and keep our prices very low, and the way we do that is by letting people bring their own wine or drinks. Which also means you get to drink your favorite drinks instead of us trying to sell you a wine you don’t like.” said Quinn.

“We’re trying to get people to experience this fun environment without breaking the bank. Making people broke isn’t the point. Art should be accessible to everyone,” she added.

With a blank canvas to work with, Quinn has made the studio a masterpiece of her own.

A towering chalk wall makes posing for a photo with art at the end of the class “instagram-worthy.”

The studio’s walls resemble a proud mother’s fridge — covered in bright art that truly makes the room the heart of the home.

The only difference, however, is that the art in the studio looks professionally painted instead of the perplexed crayon squiggles from her son that Quinn is happy to show off on her fridge at home.

The art is able to look expertly done because instructors walk painters through every step of the painting process, from mixing colors to the technique used for each stroke, for anywhere from $20 to $50.

“Even if they don’t love their painting halfway through, they know by the end it’s going to come around. Though sometimes we do have to nudge them in the right direction if things are getting a little too wild on their canvas,” Quinn said.

A main instructor paints on a stage where projections of step-by-step directions are displayed on two large monitors, and assistants walk around the room ready to step in if someone needs help.

If the instructors walking customers through each piece wasn’t enough, a cheerful, life-sized Bob Ross cutout ensures each painter knows, “we don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

As nice as it is to have the extra help, the instructors and assistants are only as involved as the painter wants them to be.

Quinn said the experience is truly catered to each individual, and some customers will even paint something entirely on their own while enjoying the company of the class.

Noting that the Arizona market typically likes to keep things as relaxed as possible, she observed:

“Here for some reason the people love to have stuff sketched out for them so we sketch out any of the tricky parts beforehand. They focus more on the fun of it rather than, ‘were going to make ourselves super seriously.’”

“But most people are very surprised with their abilities when they are taken step by step and not left to their own devices,” Quinn added.

Though painters are assisted throughout the classes, Quinn said their creative freedom is not interrupted in the slightest.

 Patrons can alter the paintings as they see fit, whether that means changing shapes, adjusting colors or adding glitter — a popular choice.

Creativity truly takes the wheel, however, during Uptown Art’s “paint your pet” night, where customers submit photos of their fur babies and the studio provides a basic sketch for patrons to fill with color and love.

“It’s a great way too, if you’ve lost a pet or had a family member lose a pet, to commemorate them and celebrate them while doing it more personally and cheaper,” said Quinn.

For those without pets, the studio also offers other themed nights including a “nerd night” to paint scenes from Star Wars, Stranger Things, Game of Thrones and other notorious movies and shows worthy of geeking out about.

Quinn added the “mystery” night has also been a huge hit.

Painters come in unaware of what the image will be, and the instructor uses various techniques like rotating the canvas every other stroke to keep painters guessing what they are making throughout the night.

“There’s something for everyone, and I can promise you won’t get bored. We have so many techniques and styles to choose from there’s something for every creative eye,” said Quinn.

From birthdays and bachelorette parties to summer camps and date nights, Quinn said the studio is always packed with eager artists ready to learn. She added the classes do fill up quickly and, while sometimes the studio takes walk-ins, the best way to secure a spot is to register online.

“If anything, people should come and try it just once, they might surprise themselves,” Quinn said, adding, “it doesn’t matter if you’re a complete beginner. We get all the time, ‘I can’t even draw a stick figure’ and you can you just need someone to guide you there.”

Information: 1900 W. Germann Road, Chandler. 408813-8059, uptownart.com/chandler