Right about February, you start hearing even the heartiest of Wisconsinites complain about the winter. That might be part of the reason why paint-and-sip businesses are attracting the indoor-bound. Four months ago, Mari Kessenich opened a Pinot’s Palette franchise in Appleton — the first in Wisconsin — and has had to add extra painting event nights to keep up with demand.
“It’s entertainment, which everyone’s looking for,” Kessenich says. “Especially here when it’s so cold outside and you can’t be outdoors. It still allows you to have a conversation, it’s lighthearted and you’re listening to music, and you’re with people that you enjoy.”
It doesn’t hurt that Pinot’s Palette also lets you try out a few favorite wines while you’re making a masterpiece. One of Pinot’s five artists will lead you through the painting process by demonstrating easy steps and making suggestions as you progress. At the end of a two-hour session, you’ve got your very own painting to take home. Traci Budahn of Green Bay (above, left) and Jenny Englebert of De Pere worked on a nighttime landscape with dragonflies during a mid-February session.
Kessenich got the bug for paint-and-sip while she lived in Houston, just a few blocks from the very first Pinot’s Palette. After her husband was relocated to the Fox Cities, she decided to open her own franchise. It’s been popular among private parties, couples and companies as a team-building event.
Similar area businesses also mix a social gathering with art-making and wine, such as Hands on Art Studio in Fish Creek, and Wine and Canvas, which sets up in various locations in Appleton and Green Bay and also offers Cookies and Canvas events.
“There’s something about it that’s really relaxing,” Kessenich says. “You just really focus on painting. People get into it.”