New Tigard business blends joy of painting and wine

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Michelle Birbank, left, and Jill Gorretta laugh as they enjoy a painting class at Vine Gogh Artist Bars new studio in Tigard.For more than a decade, Public Broadcasting Service host Bob Ross painted “happy trees” on his TV show “The Joy of Painting.”

Now, a Sherwood couple has taken that concept to a new level with a new business, which opened its doors this week on Pacific Highway in Tigard.

Vine Gogh Artist Bar’s concept is simple, said owner Jenny Schildan: Anyone can paint, if they are taught the right way.

“We reference Bob Ross all the time,” she said.

Aspiring artists get a crash course in painting by trying their hand at a particular work of art.

Schildan describes it as art for the non-artist.

“Our demographic is me,” she said. “Women in their 30s with kids who are looking for something to do that wasn’t going out to bars.”

Try your hand

Who: Vine Gogh Artist Bar

What: Painting studio and wine bar

Where: 11513 S.W. Pacific Highway, in Tigard

Hours: Wednesday to Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings.

Prices: $30 for 2-hour painting class

Painters relax with a glass of wine or beer as they work on their paintings in a two-hour class.

Schildan and her husband Paul teach the classes, along with a team of eight other instructors.

“There is something very therapeutic about filling in things with color,” said Shildan, who has been painting since she was 16.

Popular idea

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Casey Stewart adds a few touches to the treeline of his painting during a class at Vine Gogh Artist Bar in Tigard.The Tigard location is the second for Schildan’s business.

“I knew I wanted one on the Westside,” Schildan said.

Vine Gogh opened in Sellwood in August 2011, offering classes for aspiring painters.

The studio selects a painting, then holds small two-hour-long sessions, detailing step by step how to re-create it.

“There wasn’t anything like this in Portland,” Schildan said. “I had no idea if it would catch on. I knew that I liked to paint, but I didn’t know if the average person would be brave enough to try it.”

But the studio-turned-wine bar has proven popular, with frequent waitlists for classes.

“We seat 32 people, and we had wait lists of another 32 people for a particular painting,” she said. “It was obvious, we needed to do this.”

Schildan has always wanted to be an art teacher, she said.

“I watched my teachers teach us, and I thought, ‘That’s exactly what I want to do,’” she said. “But this is a lot more fun. People who come in really care about the subject, and they want to leave with something nice.”

After announcing they would be opening a second location in Tigard, Schildan said she was inundated with calls.

“I probably filtered at least five posts a week on our Facebook page, asking when the Tigard studio would be opening,” Schildan said.

Schildan said she would like to see Vine Gogh continue to grow.

“I would love to bring the concept to a lot of people throughout Oregon,” she TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Vine Gogh Artist Bar owner Jenny Schildan and her husband Paul both teach classes at their painting studio.

‘Something to show for it’

Most of Vine Gogh’s customers are people who have always wanted to paint, but never felt comfortable trying it on their own.

“I would say about 98 percent of them have never touched a paintbrush before,” Schildan said. “People come in, they see the original painting, and they say, ‘There’s no way I can do that.’ But they can.”

On Monday, students tried their hand at a landscape scene: Painting a large hot-air balloon floating over Mount Hood.

“You can see the change in people,” she said. “They come in and they are stressed because they came from work, or there was traffic. They say, ‘I can’t even draw a stick figure.’ But with that first brush stroke, you can see the change in them.”

Anyone can paint, Schildan added. The trick is thinking of it in ways that are easy to execute.

“We break things down by shape,” she said. “If we are painting a fox, we don’t see it as a fox. It’s a circle with an oval and two triangles.”

Schildan said the unique approach to painting resonates with people.

By making it a night out with friends, it takes what is sometimes seen as an intimidating artform and makes it accessible.

Schildan said her cousin had the best way to describe her business.

“It’s like going out drinking, and then having something to show for it,” she said with a laugh.

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