Thursday, January 10, 2013

Brush Studio - East Grand Rapids, Michigan

I noticed a place called Brush Studio on a Facebook post from one of my friends.  It looked like a very fun place so I had to check it out!  After analyzing their websites calendar I decided to participate in a "Family Day" and take my daughter.  She is our aspiring artist in the family so I knew she would enjoy it!

Here's our experience:

The studio is located in the Gaslight area of East Grand Rapids, Michigan.  We are not familiar with the area and the address made it a little hard for us to locate the exact building.  Tip:  the address leads you to the main road but the building is actually located in a turn around area that is kind of around the corner from where you might expect.  There is a free parking structure located within the turn around.  Once we found it everything made sense.  There are many other unique shops and places to eat so you could really make a day out of your visit.  

When you enter the studio you will see a small store section where you can purchase canvas art by local artists along with jewelry and baby items.  

The staff was friendly and very customer service oriented!  We arrived early (as recommended) to find our seats and get ready for the class.  

Sample of some of the paintings they were instructing on at the time.
Seats are already assigned before you arrive (if you reserve a seat separately from other friends make sure you tell them at the time of reservation so they will seat you together).  Your "station" will already have an easel, canvas, paint brushes, and a cup of water.  The only thing you need to do before class starts is to get an apron and your paints.   I loved how they make the process so easy!  The paints have a pump and the paints required for the class are moved to the front with a small sign telling you how many pumps of each color you will need.  You just grab a piece of poster board (provided by the paint) and start pumping.

This is the area you face during the class.  Under the Brush Studio picture is the paint.
To the left of this picture is where the teacher instructs from.
The teacher has a completed picture hanging to refer to but she painted another
to show us how to do it ourselves.

My daughters painting station.  She is excited!
The classes are taught by art teachers!!!  I loved how easy they made everything - even for me who is far from being an "artist"!

Being an artist is one thing but teaching others how to do art takes another set of skills.  I think they hit the mark on marking this class fun and a great learning experience!!  They even start you off by discussing the different brushes and their use.

You mix your paints right on the paper covered table.

You don't have to follow the "rules" exactly.
My daughter and I decided to use different colors for our owls.

Don't forget to sign and date the picture!

Ahh - an artist :-)
They have actually changed instruction to a different owl picture that I can't wait to do!
They know how to keep things fresh for returning painters!

We loved it so much that we decided to visit again (with my mom).  This time we did a goofy reindeer.

I loved how the teacher showed us how to add the snow on the antlers so it looked real
along with how to make shadows and blend the snow with the sky!
Those are skills we can use for a lifetime of art!

Other comments:

They offer open painting for people that want to use the studio but make their own piece of art.   There's also more adult oriented instructed painting.  I have seen a lot of fun pictures of this on the studios Facebook page.

The ambience??  Five stars!!!  They nailed it!!  There is light music during instruction and they turn it up a little every time you are painting (without instruction).  They also have a bar where they serve a variety of beverages (not just soda's - includes wine and some beer) and snacks.

There is a break in the class so your 1st layer has some time to dry.  This is a great time to freshen your  paint supply (or even the water you use to rinse your brushes), use the restroom, or refresh your snack/beverages.

The class takes about 2.5 hours - I would plan for 3 when you consider getting there about 15 minutes early and maybe waiting for some dry time at the end of class.  UPDATE:  They have gotten a lot better with sticking to 2 hours of class time.  Although, I sometimes feel rushed.  You can stay as long as you like to finish your painting and get help from the instructor.

Is your painting not turning out just like the sample painting?  The instructor will gladly help you adjust your painting so it still looks great.  For example, my daughter recently made a flower a little bigger than it was supposed to be.  It was one of many flowers so it threw off the look of the painting.  Keep in mind - every painting is unique!  The instructor gladly helped my daughter with ways that she could adjust the rest of the painting so her "large flower" would make hers a unique and beautiful painting.

I am ALWAYS critical of my paintings!!!  But, once I get it home (away from the instructors painting and the rest of my classmates) it always looks much nicer.  Just remember - EVERY PAINTING IS UNIQUE!  So don't compare!  Instead - look at your painting on it's own.  I'm sure it will be great!  I only have one painting (out of the many I have now done) that I don't like.  And that was my fault - I tried to switch the colors and my colors didn't go well....

Want to get a group of people together to paint (but everyone pays for their own)?  Here's my easy advice:  have the first person register online.  The online registration has an area in the bottom where you can start a "group".  Call your group whatever you want (something that makes sense for the occasion).  Then, notify all your friends that they can call or go online to get registered.  Just have them mention the group name (can add in notes online).  That way everyone in your group will be seated together.  

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this place!  It's a little pricey to participate often but considering there is art instruction justifies the cost to me!!

Other paintings we have completed at Brush Studios:

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