Painting Socials in Eagle helps uncover everyone’s inner artist | VailDaily.com

Painting Socials in Eagle helps uncover everyone’s inner artist

EAGLE — Gypsum resident Dan Dougherty is making it his business to prove that anyone can create a custom painting.

Actually, he calls Painting Socials his hobby business and through his efforts, more and more downvalley residents are discovering their previously untapped creative reservoirs.

Painting Socials brings people together for a two- to three-hour painting project that Dougherty breaks down with step-by-step instruction. He provides all the materials — canvas, paint, brushes and even aprons — as well as the project outline. From there, aspiring artists tackle the project and each participant takes home a painting that features his or her personal touch.

"In my class settings, people get over their intimidation pretty quickly," Dougherty said. "Plus, we have a really supportive community. Everyone compliments everyone else. Not once has anyone said 'Your trees are really horrendous.'"

Painting Socials offers classes every other Tuesday at The Dusty Boot in Eagle as well as special classes at the Dougherty home and at Art Space Workshop and Gallery. Dougherty is also willing to bring a painting party to wherever folks want to gather.

Creative outlet

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Dougherty's bio notes that he "turned his love of art into a successful 25-plus year career in marketing by first attending an art school for graphic design, and then a university for creative writing." His family relocated to Eagle County from Tennessee and Doughtery's wife, Tiffany, accepted a position as principal at Eagle Valley Elementary School. After a stint as Eagle County Schools communications coordinator, Dougherty eventually accepted a similar post in Grand Junction. But that western Colorado community wasn't a good fit for the Dougherty family, so they settled back in Gypsum. Dougherty now works as a marketing and communications consultant along with running Painting Socials.

"I enjoy painting and I find it very relaxing," Dougherty said. "That made be want to try it in a more social setting."

What could be more social than a class at a popular local restaurant? When he approached The Dusty Boot about hosting painting sessions at the locale, Dougherty asked if there was a slower dining night when he could teach classes. The Boot staff agreed to let him set up every other Tuesday, asking only that participants order appetizers or drinks at some point during the event. Snacks, libations and painting is a winning combo, according to Dougherty.

"As one customer said, 'Painting and nachos — what could be better?'" Dougherty said.

He has had crowds as large as 24 people at The Dusty Boot sessions.

Painting within a framework

"A totally blank canvas can be intimidating," Dougherty said. That's why Painting Socials provides participants with a framework for their artist efforts.

Projects ranging from a Colorado flag embellished with mountains and trees to a pair of owlets have been part of the Painting Socials menu. Dougherty publishes a schedule of his upcoming classes on his Facebook page — funpaintingsocials — that includes not only the date and location for sessions but also shows the planned project. For example, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, participants can sign up for a class at The Dusty Boot titled "Let it Snow." The project that night will be a whimsical snowman. Interested participants can sign up on the Facebook page and then pay when they arrive at the class. Sessions cost between $35 and $45, depending on the medium.

Dougherty said the hardest part of running Painting Social is trying to figure out what people want to paint.

"It has to be something that I can break down into steps. These aren't complicated paintings, but they are challenging paintings," Dougherty said.

During a class he shows participants how different brushes and different types of paint result in different effects. And, while everyone may be working on the same project, every painting is unique.

"At the end of the evening, people have a real sense of accomplishment because they have painting something nice," Dougherty said. "It celebrates our uniqueness as people."

To learn more about Painting Socials, visit Dougherty's Facebook page or his web page at funpainting social.com. He can also be reached at 970-456-3365.