Pinot Palettes – Making Lewisburg Brighter, One Brushstroke at a Time

Painting parties have become popular all over the country with individuals and groups painting their own masterpieces in fun, creative, and instructional settings.  Pinot Palettes is a newer business to our area and what a wonderful addition it is!  Husband and wife team, Ross and Cindy Hanna, first opened the studio on July 1, 2017.  Their initial location was on Court Street, beside the Lewis Theater, but they recently moved to a more central location – beside the Greenbrier Valley Theater.  The studio began as a need for a creative outlet for people in the Lewisburg area and has grown into a gallery where their artists can showcase their more serious works for the public to view and purchase.

LiveGreenbrier recently chatted with Ross about the studio and his own works and talents, as well as what he envisions for the future of Pinot Palettes in the Greenbrier Valley.

LG:  When did you and Cyndi start painting and what are your mediums?

RH:  I began painting at an early age. I began working with oils when I was about ten or eleven and have loved them since. I went through a period in my life where I was kept from painting for about twenty years but I now have a very supportive wife who encourages me to paint everyday. Since I can remember I have always been artistically inclined. From an early age, I worked in pencil, pen and charcoal. I think the reason I began painting in oils is when a desire to express myself in a bolder more vibrant way overtook me. My love for the old masters, Rubens, Titian, Rembrandt and others became a seedling in my heart and has just grown ever since. Cyndi has long expressed a inclination in art as well. She began working with pencil sketches but more recently has branched out into painting with acrylics. Her work in acrylics exhibits brilliant brushstrokes that leads the viewer on an epic journey through her paintings. 

LG:  What sets you apart from other painting party studios?

RH:  We feel that what sets our business apart from others similar businesses in the area is that we offer a permanent location for paint night parties to be held. We are the first paint party business in this area to have a permanent studio location.  We offer private party booking as well as fundraisers – perfect for holidays, parties .  Some of our events also involve charitable giving because helping our community is important to us . That being said, we are a studio where artist are working on original artistic creations.  At any given time of the day, one could drop in and watch our artist working. All of us do commission work as well as offering private one-on-one instruction.  Besides being a studio we are a fine art gallery as well, so we offer several distinct services in one location. We are an art supply store as well. We offer deeply discounted art supplies to our customers by order placement.\

LG:  What types of classes do you offer?

RH:  Cyndi now leads children and mom/daughter paint classes at Pinot Palettes. We also have step by step instructed acrylic and watercolor classes Monday thru Saturday.  Also, we now have on staff a wonderful watercolor artist, Susan Loudermilk (see below).  (Pinot Palettes schedule can be found on both their Facebook page and website.) On Tuesday, December 19, Pinot Palettes will be offering a holiday class especially for children. Call the studio for more details. 

LG:  What do you love best about what you do?

RH:  What I love best about what I do is the joy I see in peoples eyes when they have completed a painting knowing that when they began they were thinking they had no artistic abilities at all. Its all worth it when I see how happy they are with what they’ve accomplished

LG:  What advice do you have for those just starting out with painting?

RH:  I would tell (and do tell) beginner painters to be bold and not to fear the canvas. Also, don’t be timid with paint. Put the paint to the canvas with confidence, and to just do it

Image may contain: 1 person, standingImage may contain: 2 people, people sitting and indoorImage may contain: 2 people, people smilingImage may contain: 10 people, people smiling

(Owner, Ross Hanna)

In addition to being an atelier and event space, the studio also differentiates itself from other painting studios by offering watercolor nights and classes with their partner, Susan Loudermilk, a talented and accomplished watercolor artist.  Last week, my husband Elijah and I decided to step out of our comfort zones when we visited Pinot Palettes and attempted our very first watercolor paintings.

 

When we arrived at the studio, Susan had all of our materials ready and laid out on the table.  The room was bright and welcoming, as was our instructor.  Because we were the only two participants in the class,  we were able to get one-on-one instruction with Susan, as well as get a chance to chat and learn more about her and her role in the studio.

Susan, a life-long resident of western Greenbrier County, is a self-taught artist.  Her love of art started in elementary school and has since been her passion.  She began watercolor painting about 10 years ago and fell in love with the medium. Being self-taught, she takes a different approach to watercolor and tries to capture the essence of her subject in detail.  In addition to teaching classes, Susan also offers commissioned work.  Below are some of her works that are displayed in the studio.
Susan had a painting she had created earlier in the day that we were going to replicate.  We began by sketching out our painting in pencil on our paper that was thick and coarse, perfect for holding the textures and colors.  Susan gave us special erasers that were similar to putty so as to not damage the paper if we needed to correct something.  They were especially useful in lightening dark lines so they wouldn’t show through the paint.
*Susan’s original
*(Our sketches – yikes!)
As our instruction continued, it was fascinating to learn more about the art of watercolor.  We learned that a little color can go a very long way and that you don’t dip your brush from the color blocks, rather you mix the pigment with water and take from the tray (**Image below).  Good paper and brushes make a huge difference when painting and Susan graciously allowed us to use the materials that she uses in her own work.  When painting, you went the area you’re painting first then paint on top of that.  Subtle techniques are used to create varying textures and shading.  Susan explains one of her favorite practices that we used for our ornaments:

Susan goes on to tell us:  Painting for me has always been a way to relax and escape from the stresses in life. When I create something I lose myself in that piece and therefore a part of who I am is captured. I love being able to teach others so that they can experience what it feels like to put their soul into a lifelong treasure as I do. The one thing I would tell any beginner is that everyone with every skill level can create and learn and most importantly have fun doing it.”  She also emphasized that, while watercolor can be intimidating to someone, ANYONE can do watercolor.  
As the evening progressed, so did our masterpieces.  As for Elijah and myself, while it was a challenge to try something that we considered to be a little out of our wheelhouse, there’s always a first time for everything you do – and we had a great time painting with Susan.  It’s always inspiring to see an artist who truly loves what they do.  For a small town, Lewisburg really does have so much to offer.  Whether you’re looking for a date night, get together, fundraiser, or a lesson Pinot Palettes is an excellent resource and great addition to our community.  

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