pinot's palette owner
Owner Colleen Carlee

Does the thought of donning a smock, and turning puddles of paint into a work of art suitable-for-framing seem like an impossible fantasy? As someone who had never painted before, I certainly thought so. But that didn’t keep me from joining the fun at the opening of Pinot’s Palette in Montclair earlier this month.

Owner Colleen Carlee has created an inviting studio space. Upon entering, you notice the exposed brick walls, buffet tables offering wine and nibbles, rows of expectant easels supporting blank canvases, and paper plate palettes, loaded with color. The environment practically begs you to paint.palette wine glass

A series of Pinot’s Palette teachers patiently taught us, here’s the key–step by step–how to paint a simple still life of bottles and glasses of wine. Thinking there was no way I could copy the painting, I went my own way with it (which was encouraged by the staff) and was surprisingly pleased with the results.

The atmosphere was supportive, with dozens of other would-be artists sipping wine with one hand, while applying paint to canvas with the other. Between each mini-lesson, we painted while lively music played and everyone chatted amiably, admiring each other’s efforts.

rows of paintersThe teachers circulated among the students, ooh’ing, ah’ing and offering instructive tips. “You could use more shadowing,” said one. “That looks like early Picasso,” another, particularly encouraging, teacher told me. “Perhaps at age five,” I chuckled to myself.

Still, her comment boosted my self-confidence enough to keep me going, even though I realized my vessels looked more like 19th-century apothecary jars than wine bottles.

I hadn’t expected to display the painting, but my proud husband and daughter insisted. So, for now anyway, it hangs in our dining room…proof of the surprises that await when you nourish your creative side.painting

Pinot’s Palette

351 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair NJ

(973) 744-7500

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