By Jennifer Pund
Anyone can paint, according to Cathy and Janis Carrithers, the mother-daughter owners of Your Creative Canvas. They say It’s just a matter of choosing what to paint, and how to do it and that’s where Your Creative Canvas steps in. Themes are built around each event while a trained artist walks participants through the process is creating a new work of art. Everyone walks away with a personal piece of art ready to hang on the wall along with a few hours of fun and relaxation with old and new friends.
The two long time Nederland locals discovered step-by-step painting when they took a “paint and sip” class together. “My brother bought my mom a [class gift certificate] one year, but couldn’t go so he invited me to go with her,” Janis explains. “We had a blast. It was just so much fun.”
Cathy said this is where her addiction with the pastime started. “I was thinking it was too bad there wasn’t something like this in the mountains. We are fortunate enough to have three venues that work with us. I’d like to find something in Central City or Black Hawk, but right now we are working with The Stage Stop in Rollinsville and Club Ned and The Carousel of Happiness in Nederland,” she said.
From the time the two started kicking around the idea of starting this type of business, it took them a little over three years to put it all together. “We started pricing things and then we felt it out a little, whether people would enjoy it up here and we got a good response,” Cathy said.
“It’s simple, it’s easy and it ends up being really fun. The first time we did it, I thought I could not do this in any way, shape or form,” Janis said. With step-by-step instruction, even first-time painters with no experience can complete a painting. “I have no background. I grew up here in Nederland and took art classes, that’s about it. I’m a vet tech. If I can teach a class you can easily paint it,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it was my painting my first time.”
The owners say most people are intimidated by painting although they have never tried it. “That’s just it, most people are afraid to try and say ‘I can’t paint a picture’. Well, yeah you can,” Cathy said.
Most events are open to participants of all ages, except Club Ned where members have to be over 21. “We’ve had kids as young as seven. It’s remarkable how shy kids can really blossom during one class. We had a some parents say they saw a side of their shy child they had never seen. He was so inquisitive about the process and ended up helping other adults with their paintings.”
They said one of the hardest parts of painting is just deciding what to paint and how. These hurdles have been cleared with a theme and demo painting for each event to give participants an idea from the start. Each individual can do variations of that idea. Artists Colleen Marh and Danielle Crouse are asked to supply a theme painting for each event. “We did a Blue Moon on the Blue Moon and fireworks in our July 3 class,” Cathy said. “We try to have a reason behind [the theme] and keep it simple so [the paintings] can be completed in a reasonable time frame and something you want to take home and hang on your wall.”
Each Your Creative Canvas class is taught by one of the artist giving step by step instructions and guidance throughout the entire process. “The artist will go through a step and then allow the students to complete that step before moving on to the next step, so there is a lot of time to break or socialize, visit with friends and relax,” Janis said.
In most cases a completed demonstration painting is provided as a guide for the class. The artists then reproduce a painting live along with the class to demonstrate certain techniques or options for that particular piece. “I do [the demo] so they can see what we are going to focus on then I do another in front of everyone and go along with them so they can follow and to their own interpretation. Crouse said. “But It’s mostly about encouraging them not to be intimidated. It’s Your Creative Canvas, so have fun with it. Eventually people are just having at it and really enjoying it, which is really nice to see.”
Janis and Cathy are available throughout the class for one-on-one help, replenishing rinse water, paints or brushes. “We provide everything from the canvas and paints to brushes and aprons,” Cathy said. “And someone to help you if you get stuck and need a bit of help.”
Although a demo is provided, participants are encouraged to paint their own version. “Everyone’s picture is their own. We don’t want them to paint something that looks just like the artists, we what them to paint their interpretation of that painting,” Cathy explained. “Truly my favorite part of every event is when we are near the end and everyone lines up for the group photo. That’s when you really can see it’s Your Creative Canvas. People do all sorts of things where they look nothing like what we were painting, but they are great all the same.”
Janis says the participants can’t really make mistakes with the use of acrylic paints. “If you don’t like it, walk away, visit with someone, have a drink and let it dry. Then come back and paint over it. It’s idiot proof.”
October events at Club Ned are on Oct. 16 and Oct. 30 from 7-9:30 p.m. and at the Stage Stop, Oct. 18 from 2-4:30 p.m. and Oct. 28 from 7-9:30 p.m. Others may be added during the month. Check the website’s event list for more information.
Call 720-544-1683, visit www.yourcreativecanvas.com or find Your Creative Canvas on Facebook for information and reservations.
Originally published in the October 2015 issue of the MMAC Monthly.