The art of socializing: Paintbrushes & Party in Poughkeepsie

art of socializing @The newly opened Paintbrushes & Party studio in Poughkeepsie offers a relaxed setting for kids and adults alike to get together with friends (or make new ones), listen to music and sip a beverage – beer or wine for the adults – all while creating a finished painting. And co-owner Deanna Moriarty says that people don’t have to know how to paint or have any particular talent for it to attend a “paint, sip and party art studio” session. “This is about having fun and relaxing,” she says. “And I haven’t seen a painting created here yet that wasn’t good, in my opinion. They’re all beautiful – in different ways, but they’re all beautiful.”

The month-old Paintbrushes & Party does offer open sessions where people can do their own thing, but at the heart of the business are the classes taught by local art teachers, who guide participants step-by-step through the process of creating a particular featured painting. The cost is $40 and includes all supplies. Aprons are provided, but participants are advised to wear suitable clothes for painting since acrylic paint will not wash out of clothing once dry. Beverages and food are sold separately.

Featured paintings are posted on the calendar at www.paintbrushesandparty.com, where preregistration is encouraged. Classes are two to three hours long, and singing and dancing to the music played during the sessions are encouraged, along with the painting and sipping. In fact, the studio offers themed get-togethers for girls’ nights out, bachelorette parties and baby showers where the guests can create their own take-home party favor in the form of a finished painting. Kids can do birthday parties, and classes are offered for ages 7 and up.

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Moriarty says that they also plan to do a lot of fundraisers. Already active with some local nonprofits, she says that she and the studio’s co-owner, Steve Laing, “really love Dutchess County and want to give back.” The studio will set up and run the event, and the nonprofits won’t have to do anything, says Moriarty, except invite their lists of supporters. “All they have to do is get people who want to help them raise money and come out with family and friends to make a painting and have fun.”

Originally from New Jersey, Moriarty has lived in the Hudson Valley region for more than ten years, she says. In addition to managing the fledgling art studio business, she’s a financial planner who specializes in retirement planning for nonprofits and financial planning for families with special-needs dependents. Laing is employed in the marketing department at Hunter Mountain. The couple enjoy art, and they’ve been planning this business concept for some time, says Moriarty, “but it was important to me as a woman to wait until we found the right location: one that was safe for women to go out to alone at night or for a girls’ night out, with plenty of well-lit parking.”

And nobody should feel intimidated by painting in a group, or feel like they’re going to be graded on their efforts. “We want to encourage people to unleash their inner artist and nurture their creativity,” Moriarty says. “If you can hold a paintbrush, you can do it.”

Paintbrushes & Party, Wednesdays-Fridays, 1-9 p.m., Saturdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Mondays/Tuesdays, Apple Valley Plaza, 702 Freedom Plains Road, Poughkeepsie; (845) GO-PAINT, (845) 467-2468, www.paintbrushesandparty.com.

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