Paint Along brushes up artistic side

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Kelly Lamano

Co-Editor

One of Downtown Lakeland’s crafty secrets, Paint Along Studios, teaches painting to anyone, from the non-painter to the advanced artist. Paint Along Studios is a quaint art studio that facilitates step-by-step painting classes.

David Collins, owner and primary instructor, opened the facility in 2009 to teach people how to “paint along” with him.

“Paint Along Studios is not just painting, it’s a form of entertainment,” Collins said. “You have to be humorous and entertaining.”

Collins paints a picture prior to the session to display for a group, and then paints the picture once more during the session to walk guests through the painting process.

Those who attend these sessions have the opportunity to paint anything from still martini glasses to a modern twist on a Vincent Van Gogh classic: Starry Night Christmas.

There are five instructors at the studio, including Collins, acrylic painter Ana Lopez, glass painter Terry Morales, oil painter Aaron Corbitt and photographer Skip Farley.

As the primary instructor, Collins says he painted as a child, up until he was 14 years old. He stopped painting and took an interest in entrepreneurship, learning the craft of opening businesses.

“When I began painting, I became obsessed with it,” Collins said. “I painted every day and night. Once I have an idea, then I work it to the ground.”

In 2005, Collins picked up his brush and palette to get back into the art form. He wanted to teach his techniques to students to demonstrate that even non-artists are capable of creating their very own “masterpiece.”

Online Editor Maggie Ross shares her experience at Paint Along Studios.

“It’s so easy, anyone could do it,” Ross said. “You don’t even have to be creative to be able to paint a picture with Dave. He makes the whole process easy to do and understand.”

Classes are offered Monday through Saturday at various times for a fee of $25. The fee includes a canvas and painting supplies. Each attendee will leave with a finished painting by the end of the session.

Paint Along also sponsors “Paint for the Cause,” a fundraiser for non-profit organizations.

“It becomes a trade in services,” Collins said. “[An organization] does the marketing by putting 28 new people in the seats that I didn’t pay anything for, with the exception of my time, the cost of the canvas and the cleanup.”

All of the proceeds from Paint for the Cause session go towards the non-profit organization. The organization receives the donations, and Collins receives advertising in hopes of bringing new guests into the studio.

Paint Along Studios is located at 123 S. Kentucky Ave., near Palace Pizza and Evolution Records.

There are two floors to the studio. The first floor is dedicated to painting sessions. The second floor contains a local painter’s collection that is displayed for a month, as well as working spaces. Collins hopes to build out these working spaces for local artists to rent and practice.

“People are afraid of what other people will say,” Collins said. “It’s like someone playing their guitar in a closet. If a painter stays in his or her house to paint, it’s like playing the air guitar.”

Collins says his main concern is for people to have a good time. They are encouraged to bring their own drinks and snacks, and to make a sort of painting party out of the occasion.

“I hope everyone goes home happy. I want everyone to succeed. I don’t mind being entertaining, and I like to be laughed at,” Collins jokes.

To sign up for a class or learn more about Paint Along Studios, visit the website at www.paintalongstudios.com.