FOLLANSBEE - Area residents who have ever wanted to try their hand at painting or are just looking for something different to do with friends are invited to try the Cheers to That Painting Studio at 740 Main St.
The business follows a relatively new trend in which people with little or no experience painting may participate in one introductory session while enjoying a glass of wine or beer, said Kylee Secrist, the studio's owner.
It is one of hundreds of "paint and sip studios" that have opened in the last several years, according to the U.S. Small Business Association.
OPENS IN FOLLANSBEE — Kylee Secrist stands in her Cheers to That Painting Studio, a new business at 740 Main St., Follansbee, that offers area residents an opportunity to try their hand at painting in a relaxed, informal setting. - Warren Scott
Some are part of national franchises and some hold licenses allowing them to serve liquor. Others are independent and invite participants to bring their own wine or beer and snacks.
Secrist, whose studio falls into the last group, said she got the idea after attending a paint and sip gathering held for a bachelorette's party and learning of studios in Wheeling and the Pittsburgh area. She thought she could fill a niche locally.
She said the studio's location on state Route 2, across from a city parking lot, offered her a central site from which to target people in Brooke, Hancock and Jefferson counties.
A Follansbee native and Weirton resident, Secrist said she became interested in art at a young age and has continued to dabble in it though her education at West Liberty University and career took her in another direction.
A workers' compensation associate for an area business, Secrist plans to offer a weekly session once a week, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday, for now with other sessions to be added if there's sufficient demand.
Secrist said a woman has approached her about doing a session for her birthday party, and she invites others to book private parties.
The fee for each session includes an apron, paint, brush, canvass, "anything you need to create a painting," said Secrist.
She stressed participants don't need to know anything about art.
"You may never have picked up a paint brush. You will be guided step by step in how to create a painting," Secrist said, adding the idea is for people to become familiar with art in a low-pressure environment.
"Many people get discouraged the first time they try (painting), and this helps them to relax," she said.
Secrist said she conducted a test session with family and friends and was pleased with the feedback.
"We really had a good time," she said.
Secrist said while many women attend paint and sip sessions, they are frequented by men, too. She plans to promote some sessions as date nights to encourage both genders to take part.
Secrist also has plans to offer alcohol-free sessions for youth. She said teens, ages 13-17, may attend the adult classes if accompanied by an adult and only adults 21 and older may consume beer or wine while there. No other liquor may be consumed at the studio.
Secrist said she may add other staff and bring in guest artists to do workshops.
Sessions, which are limited to 14 participants, may be booked by calling (304) 374-1481 or online at www.cheerstothatpainting.com. Online browsers can view upcoming session dates and examples of paintings they may create there at the website and the studio's Facebook page.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)