Wine and creativity is an unstoppable combination, judging by Chicago's ever-growing number of evening painting classes. But even if trying something new with a friend or loved one sounds great in theory, life has a tendency to get in the way.
Painting to Gogh, a Bucktown-based startup, wants to make paint nights accessible for those with slammed or unpredictable schedules.
Founder and CEO Shashin Patel said the idea came about from his own difficulties in finding a good time to attend a painting class.
“I was coming back from my honeymoon and was trying to plan a date night for my wife and I,” said Patel. “She would get home around 7:30 pm, and I’d get home pretty late too, but usually classes start at 7 p.m..”
Figuring they couldn’t be the only couple faced with this challenge, Patel decided to do something about it.
“We want to take that paint-and-sip experience and bring it to your doorstep,” said Patel. “You pick a painting from our catalog, and we ship you all the materials: easels, paint brushes, paints, aprons, a palette and a video tutorial that shows you step-by-step how to do that painting.”
Patel partnered with the founders of Arts n Spirits, a pioneering brick-and-mortar paint night establishment in Chicago, to translate the experience for at-home consumption. Drawing on meticulous notes about how co-owner and artist-in-residence Jessica Hess taught her classes in Bucktown, the team broke the paintings down into video tutorials.
Once the video tutorials were ready, Patel, who is a developer at AbbVie by day, put together an e-commerce site and launched the service last year.
In addition to the flexibility of painting whenever you want, Patel said Painting to Gogh is a great experience for people looking for a more intimate experience, or who don't want a large group to dictate the pace.
“You can pause and rewind, and you go at your own pace,” said Patel. “When you go to a paint-and-sip experience, you’re there for a set time of two-and-a-half to three hours, and you go at the instructor’s pace because there’s a class of anywhere between 30 to 50 people there with you.”
For solo first-timers who don’t have their own supplies, kits are available for $75 with instructions and materials for two paintings. For repeat customers who already have the basic supplies they need, individual paintings are available for $30. Groups of two or more can buy kits at a discount.
Currently, customers can choose between 12 different paintings, but Patel said that selection will only keep growing. And don’t worry if you didn’t ace art class — each painting is selected with beginners in mind.
“We want anyone to be able to do any of these paintings,” he said. “Not to say that they aren’t complex — the steps are just done in a way where it’s very replicable.”
Images via Painting to Gogh.