Paint Monkey in Lawrenceville is an interesting place. In fact, I am not quite sure how to categorize it. It is not an art gallery, yet art is displayed everywhere. It is not a museum, yet it pays homage to the great masters of centuries past. And it is not a school, yet patrons learn through instruction how to paint.
Perfect for the beginner, Paint Monkey offers classes which provide step-by-step instructions with which participants recreate artistic masterpieces. You choose the artist/artwork, and sign up for the one-night class. With no commitment, the relationship caters to the experimental. And with multiple class themes, you will want to return again and again.
If you would like a Kandinsky to hang on your wall with the added satisfaction of knowing you recreated it yourself (as opposed to the reprinted version on a poster or the multi-million dollar, unobtainable original), then you sign up for the 7 pm class on Saturday. It’s that easy. You choose your favorite (Warhol, O’Keefe, Lichtenstein, etc.) and Paint Monkey provides you with the tools required: paint, canvas, brushes, and direction.
In addition to the “masters” classes, Paint Monkey offers themed classes like Seasons, Pittsburgh Skyline, and Holidays such as the current Cats and Bats to celebrate Halloween. If you are interested in a personal piece, participate in Paint Your Pet, for which you send a photo of your pet ahead of time to Paint Money. They transpose the image as a sketch onto the canvas, and when you arrive for your class, it is ready to be painted.
I do not want this to sound as though it’s a “class.” For those who feel the pangs of anxiety when reminded of high school, fear not. Grab some friends and a bottle of wine and head to Paint Monkey for a night of fun, laughter, art, and the added bonus of returning home with a self-created work of art.
Are you apprehensive about remaking a famous artist’s work? When you arrive, the canvas is pre-stretched, allowing for no stress and anxiety about getting started. And once you get the feel of the paintbrush in your hand and the large white spaces begin to fill with colors, your courage of creativity will enter and the artwork becomes your own.
Paint Monkey is owned and operated and was brainstormed and raised by Mary Lou Bradley and Joe Groom. The two recently moved to Pittsburgh and set up shop at 100 43rd Street in Lawrenceville, and have inhabited the studio since December 2011. The twosome’s personalities and talents allow for a fun-filled evening. Joe, an artist and designer, conducts the classes. Both are fun to talk to and are very helpful as you work on your masterpiece; are quick to answer questions, refill your supplies, and ensure the eclectic soundtrack playing in the background is never silenced.
The space is conducive to the task at hand. Adorning the walls are all the paintings on which classes will be and have been based. The tall ceilings are inspirational and cool; the brick of the Lawrenceville Ice House adds character and beauty to the space. Not to go unmentioned is the collection of wine bottles. After each class a bottle is chosen and saved which Mary Lou and Joe plan to display; unique mementos of past evenings and participants.
On the night Radiochumps visited, participants were recreating Starry Night, a favorite of Vincent Van Gogh’s works. Every seat was taken, every canvas painted and filled. There were those that looked like they were on dates and there were groups of friends, laughing and enjoying themselves. The looks of concentration and determination were fun to watch as the paintbrushes started moving. It did not take long for each piece to become a personal work of art, originating in a well-known masterwork and culminating in a private expression of one’s own experience; a souvenir which can be taken home as a reminder of a fun evening.
If you like the idea of a one-of-a-kind night out and the ability to return home with a self-made masterpiece, visit http://beapaintmonkey.com for more information and to make reservations for a class of your choice. Check out the Calendar for all the class themes or visit the Private Parties page for ideas on how to make that upcoming get-together unique. Give them a call today and you can be a Paint Monkey!