Pinots Palette was founded in Houston, Texas back in 2009. There’s now over 100 studios across the country with 2 being located within Iowa (Dubuque and Des Moines)! The Pinots Palette tag line is “Paint. Drink. Have Fun.” and I can vouch that it is definitely a very fun and relaxed environment! Classes usually operate twice a week, with different seasonal painting each evening, so you could go back multiple times and not have to paint the same pictures over and over! The studios operate a ‘bring your own drink’ policy but provide glasses and ice buckets and all the necessary painting equipment for the evening!
Disclosure: Thanks to Pinots Palette for hosting me for the evening, however as always opinions are 100% my own.
Pinot’s Palette Dubuque
Pinots Palette is located at 955 Main St in Dubuque, there is a small car park alongside the studio but being on the quiet end of Main St means that even at 6.30pm on a Saturday night, it’s easy to find a parking spot on the road (free after 5pm)!
I attended the 2 hour ‘Northern Lights Night’ evening which was really popular with 36 attendees! There were individuals, groups of friends, couples, mothers and daughters (including a couple of younger people, 12yrs + are allowed with an adult!), so there was a great range of people!
On arrival you check in with the artist who points out where you’re seated and tells you where you can hang coats and find the aprons and where you can sort out your wine as you don’t actually keep the wine bottles at your seat. I really liked the way your art space was personalised with your name! It’s a really inspiring work space, before it started I sat at my easel and couldn’t stop looking around at all of the artwork on the walls! It was all so bright and colourful!
Our ‘Northern Lights Night’ artist was Shannon (who had graduated college with a degree in art!) and her assistant, Halle, helped out when people needed extra paint or paper towel. You are given minimal paint to start with to reduce wastage, I had to refill my palette 3 or 4 times with a couple of the main colours. We were using acrylic paints as they go on thick and dry quick, so we’d be able to take our pictures home with us at the end of the night!
Shannon made everyone feel very comfortable, allowing us to choose what music we listened to and even told us funny stories that made her relatable to us, such as how if you’re not careful you may wash your paint brush off in your wine glass or take a sip out of the water pot by mistake (so something I would do if I had a drink)! There were people singing along to the music, art ‘neighbours’ were encouraging each other and apparently the night before someone had even got up and sung karaoke!
The class was guided step by step. The artist stood on a centre stage with a microphone and painted the picture along with us so we could see how it all came together. With our particular picture, we were encouraged to freestyle parts if we wanted to. We could make our Northern Light swirls a little different, or make a crescent moon instead of a full moon, or make our mountain tops rounded/pointed/tall/small etc.
We were taught techniques such as how to blend and make water reflections. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and in the 15 minute break I carried on working in attempt to go back and fix the areas I wasn’t happy with. I also liked being seated next to the wall, as I’m quite short, I found it more comfortable to stand up when it came to painting the top of the canvas! The class is quite fast moving especially as I had signed up to a picture with a lot of elements and tricky techniques! I was really proud of my finished result and looking around once everyone was done, there were a lot of really great pictures! The 2 hours literally WHIZZED by!
The final stage was to sign your masterpiece like a true artist (if you wanted to of course)! There were a range of different coloured sharpies so you could sign either the front or back, I dated mine too!
At the end of the class, they took a group picture of everyone showing off their artwork and offered to take pictures of individual family/friend groups. As promised, my picture was almost bone dry by the time I left!
(This made me laugh and for that reason, I did in fact tip my artist 🙂 )
I think there’s a lot to say for the fact that the majority of the people in the room were returners that had visited Pinots Palette more than once. It IS a fun environment to be in (even for people that don’t drink wine!) and I think looking around at the past examples on the walls, a lot of the pictures are suitable of people for all artistic abilities. For example, no human face drawings because let’s face it, only a hand full of clever people can actually draw humans and not make them look creepy.
I’m not going to lie, I do have a bit of an art background and do enjoy drawing (or should I say copying…I’m not very good at doing stuff from memory but I can copy a picture!), so maybe I had a little bit of a leg up, but I learnt simple techniques at Pinots Palette that I hadn’t used before (I haven’t actually had an art lesson since high school and I finished that 13 years ago)!
Pinots Palette is especially great in the winter because you can escape the cold for a couple of hours!
Location: 955 Main Street, Dubuque, IA
For more information, other locations and to see which pictures are currently being offered, check out the Pinots Palette website!
Visiting Dubuque? Here are some other ideas of things to do in Dubuque while in the area!