Visual Art

Painting in Numbers

social art classes offer a chance to socialize, drink, and create beautiful art

Haley Wright, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

PLEASING TO THE PALETTE. Amateur artists get their paint on at Cheers Pablo in Eau Claire.
PLEASING TO THE PALETTE. Amateur artists get their paint on at Cheers Pablo in Eau Claire.

Social art classes, a creative and fun way to spend time out with friends, have taken the Chippewa Valley by storm. A variety of social art classes are currently offered at places such as the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center and Cheers Pablo for both adults and children. The classes offer an opportunity for individuals to learn to paint with friends over a glass of wine or coffee in a no-pressure environment with the assistance of a skilled artist, leaving with a custom-made piece of art they can take home.

The classes are based around a pre-selected painting. A professional artist guides students through completing the project, teaching them skills (such as stroke techniques) as they complete their own unique versions of the pre-selected painting or create their own masterpieces.

“We take the agonizing out of the question. Your friends are there, your friendly instructor is there, your liquid courage is there, no worries!” – Rose Dolan-Neill, ECRAC

In addition to professional guidance, supplies and beverages are provided for those in attendance. Brandon Rehmus, an owner of Cheers Pablo, says the artist offers step-by-step instruction with the help of a big-screen TV. “Then the artist will walk around the room and check out each person’s painting,” he says. “If you want to follow the project selected, great; if not, the artist will help through (the) process.”

Rose Dolan-Neill, the director of visual arts for ECRAC, said people just love the idea of a two-hour workshop with friends, a canvas, and wine.

“If you have always wanted to learn to paint, but don’t know where to begin, this is the experience for you. If you know how to paint, and want to have some fun and maybe learn some new techniques, this is for you,” Dolan-Neill said. “Everything you need is provided to create a work of art – and you take your painting home at the end of the night.”

Classes geared toward children are in the works at ECRAC and are already offered at Cheers Pablo. And there are a number of classes with a number of different themes available in the community and at different locations.

ECRAC offers “Wine & Whimsy,” an evening wine and paint workshop; “Coffee & Canvas,” a noon-time coffee and paint workshop; “Sip & Sketch,” a drawing workshop; “Wearable Art,” a silk-scarf painting workshop; and “Crafty Cards,” a card-building workshop.

“I think people really enjoy the chance to create art and have fun with their friends at the same time,” she says. “For professional artists, creating art can be a really frustrating experience. So we take the agonizing out of the equation. Your friends are there, your friendly instructor is there, your liquid courage is there, no worries!”

A complete listing of dates and times of social art classes offered at ECRAC is available at

Cheers Pablo, a chain on Mall Drive that offers social art classes, originated in the Twin Cities metro area and currently has locations in Minnesota, Hudson, and Eau Claire. In October, Cheers Pablo opened their physical location in Eau Claire, but the business has operated in the Chippewa Valley since 2014; prior to opening a storefront, Cheers Pablo offered classes at different locations, such as The Fire House in downtown Eau Claire and the Sheeley House in Chippewa Falls.

Cheers Pablo offers locally-themed projects such as painting Phoenix Park, Dells Pond, or a scene from Birch Street. For a Feb. 23 event at the Leinie Lodge in Chippewa Falls, participants will paint an image inspired by the art on the brewery’s Sunset Wheat bottle. Rehmus reports Cheers Pablo will continue to offer off-site classes at places such as the Leinie Lodge, as the demand and participation are there.