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By Gwen Clayton

The concept of paint-and-sip parties sprung up several years ago as a way to combine instructional art with wine tasting. These types of parties have been popular for anyone looking for an interesting option for date night, girls night out or even corporate teambuilding workshops.

Nicole Anderson is one of the instructors at Teller Street Gallery and Studios in Wheat Ridge. She's been leading step-by-step painting parties at the shop since 2012 and claims the designs are appropriate for all skill levels.

“Being a teacher for five years, I kind of know how a beginner starts,” she said. Anderson holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art and has been teaching children’s art in after school programs in the Denver metro area for the past 10 years. At the Teller Street Gallery parties, she said some of the students’ favorite designs have been the Colorado flag, Denver skyline and the Red Rocks landscape. With Halloween coming up, she'll be working on some skull paintings and other haunted scenes.

“People get to explore their creative sides,” Anderson said. “It’s just relaxing.” The paintings are done with acrylic paint so they dry quickly enough for people to take home after the party.

Local artist Merissa Freudig also uses water-based acrylic paints for her mobile painting parties business. A photographer by trade, she came back to her bristled roots six years ago when her wife suggested she augment her photography business. “I went to one of the [paint-and-sip] places and thought, ‘This would be so much better in your home,’” Freudig said. “So I started it as a mobile painting-party business.” Freudig’s Paint at the Edge are frequent events at the Edgewater Inn and other local restaurants. In July, she led a group creating a dragonfly design.

Bernadette Soehner has attended Paint at the Edge parties in the past with fellow hockey moms, and she plans on attending more in the future. “I think they’re a great social outlet and a confidence booster too,” she said. “I don’t think the cost is outrageous per person and it’s fun to bring home a piece of art.”

Freudig has been an avid artist since the age of eight. Clay modeling, watercolor painting and drawing were her media du choix until she grew up and had to start thinking about a career. “I got my degree in photography, thinking it would be a way to make more money than through art,” she said. “So, it’s funny how I went full circle and just came back to the painting, because that was my number-one passion.”

Today, Freudig still has her photography business, and in addition to her painting parties, she is a licensed art therapist. “I started seeing how powerful it is for other people,” Freudig said. “Typically people always enjoy themselves, but it can bring out some bold emotions. I've had people cuss out their paintings, and I'm like, ‘What's going on over here? Let's work through this.’”

Earlier this year, Freudig received her master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology/Art Therapy from Naropa University in Boulder. “It’s basically the same thing as talk therapy, but you’re using art as a different language, a different way to express your emotions,” Freudig said. “I love doing the parties, but I wanted to do something that gave back more, something bigger than myself.”

To find out when the next Paint at The Edge event will take place, follow Painting Parties on Facebook at @PaintingParties. Cost is $25 per person and includes supplies and canvas. Food and drinks are available for separate purchase, and happy hour prices are offered during the painting party.

Teller Street Gallery and Studio is located at 7190 W. 38th St. in Wheat Ridge. Business hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. with paint-and-sip parties held in the evenings. The class schedule can be found on the Teller Street website at www.tellerstreetgallery.com. The parties cost $30 for supplies and the canvas. Wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks are available for separate purchase. Outside alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Group discounts and private parties are available. Anderson is offering a $5 discount to Neighborhood Gazette readers who mention this article.

For more information about Paint at the Edge, call Merissa Freudig at 303-909-2202. Edgewater Inn Pizza is located at 5302 W. 25th Ave.

For more information on Teller Street Gallery, call 303-424-9273 or find them on Facebook at @tellerstreetgallery.