Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Painting the town: Painting parties are spreading around Tampa Bay


Heidi Heine sat before the empty canvas and got to work. She dipped a brush in orange paint and swiftly spread it in vertical strokes.

On her own, she has painted palm trees, water scenes and flowers. But when she spotted a Groupon deal online for a Paint Nite event at Copperheads Tap House in Safety Harbor, she signed up despite the one-hour drive from her Palmetto home.

Heine was among roughly 30 people who gathered at Copperheads earlier this month to eat, drink and complete a painting under the direction of Dunedin artist Pamela Sprecher.

"You don't have to have any painting skills whatsoever," Sprecher told them. "We will break it down for you."

Painting parties are on the rise in Tampa Bay.

Paint Nite, a company that offers sessions at bars and restaurants, began hosting events in Safety Harbor and Clearwater for the first time this month. Within the past year, Paint Nite, founded in 2012, has expanded to 77 cities worldwide with more than 1,000 events held each month, according to company officials.

Other painting party companies with permanent studios in Tampa Bay also have noticed growing numbers of participants.

Painting with a Twist, headquartered in Louisiana, has opened studios in 23 states. In 2009, Leslie and Marvin Gay opened the first Florida location in St. Petersburg. At first, about four people attended each session.

"Now, we can hold up to 30 people in one of our classrooms and 20 in another," Leslie Gay said. "We persevered. We stayed open."

In 2011, they opened another studio in Tampa. Attendees can bring their own beverages and snacks to the studio while artists guide them through the steps of a painting. Crowd favorites include sunset and beach scenes.

"It's a way to get together with friends, have a good time, be creative, do something that's out of your comfort level," she said. "And, at the end of the class, you have a painting you can hang up immediately."

Pinot's Palette, which opened locations in Oldsmar and St. Petersburg within the past year, just opened another studio in Brandon last month. More than 30 people arrived the first day.

"We do believe that this is becoming a huge trend," said Brandon studio co-owner Jennifer Crum. "We provide more than just a night out."

The Paint Nite event in Safety Harbor on March 4 was the second time Sprecher, a real estate agent, had led a session. Sprecher is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She signed up as an instructor because she wanted a way to network and relieve stress.

The guests trickled in and filled paper plates with paint — yellow, blue, red, white and black — from large bottles in the back of the room. Then they settled at several tables set up with canvasses and paint brushes.

The night's task: painting a still life of three wine glasses and a champagne flute.

"How many of you have not painted since you were in grade school?" Sprecher asked them.

Several hands went up.

With a microphone in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, Sprecher showed the guests each step. Start with orange strokes. Then, in dark gray, draw the curvatures of the glasses before filling them in with rich red tones.

After each step, Sprecher walked to the tables with her unfinished canvas to show participants her work. Another assistant was also available for guidance.

Among the guests was Victoria Delesie, who came with several of her co-workers. It was her third time at a painting event. She has hung her two previous paintings of martini glasses and wine bottles in her kitchen, she said.

"It's just fun," said Delesie of St. Petersburg. "If it's ugly, you throw it away. It's not like you spend hundreds of dollars."

Sitting next to her was Heine, who listened to Sprecher's directions intently.

"I think painting is such a creative endeavor," she said. "It takes you away from the stress of a job."

With a small brush, Heine carefully drew thin, gray lines to form the stem of each glass. She rose from her chair and stood at a distance to scrutinize the painting that she hopes to send to her son in Canada.

"I hope he likes it," she said.

Contact Laura C. Morel at or (727) 445-4157. On Twitter: @lauracmorel.


Prices range from $30 to $45 and include painting supplies, but attendees buy or bring their own food and drinks.

• For a schedule of upcoming events by Paint Nite, visit

• Painting with a Twist can be contacted in Tampa at 2821 S MacDill Ave., (813) 839-2409; in St. Petersburg at 2527 Central Ave., (727) 327-4488.

• Pinot's Palette can be contacted in St. Petersburg at 1572 Central Ave., (727) 821-3700; in Oldsmar at 3150 Tampa Road, Unit 17A, (727) 789-7000; or in Brandon at 2086 Badlands Drive, (813) 618-3064.

Painting the town: Painting parties are spreading around Tampa Bay 03/23/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 23, 2014 9:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  2. In Florida, nation's only lightning center closes after DARPA cuts funding


    University of Florida professor Martin Uman usually spends much of this summer at an old Army base about an hour northeast of Gainesville, shooting rockets at thunderclouds, then measuring the bright flashes of lightning that followed.

    Rocket-and-wire triggered lightning at the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, which recently lost federal funding. A rocket trailing a grounded wire is launched toward an active thunderstorm at the ICLRT. One launch is from a tower, one from ground. When the wire is about as high as the Empire State Building, lightning is induced to strike the top of the wire, much as it strikes tall objects like the ESB. Interestingly, the cloud charge source is about 3 miles high, so a 300 yard-long wire can cause a 3 mile or more long lightning.  After that, there are several normal tortuous strokes ( downward leaders from the cloud charge/upward return strokes) which can be seen as the wind blows the individual strokes to the right. The time between strokes is about 50 thousands of a second. Between some strokes, continuing current can be seen. Continuing current is what generally starts forest fires. [Photo by Dr. Dustin Hill]
  3. Editorial: Reasonable clarity on gambling in Florida


    Gambling expansion strategies — and misfires — are nearly an annual ritual in Florida. There were the eight counties that voted to allow slot machines but were blocked by the Florida Supreme Court. There was the governor's $3 billion deal with the Seminole Tribe in 2015 that was never approved by the …

    Gov. Rick Scott agreed to a much simpler deal with the Seminole Tribe that embraces the status quo instead of expansion. And that’s a good thing.
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Editorial: Hillsborough smartly embraces diversion program for youths


    Children who commit minor crimes can pay for their mistakes for a lifetime — losing a chance to attend college, join the military or obtain credit and a good job. That is unjust to the individuals and a burdensome cost to society, and Hillsborough County is taking the right new approach by giving some juveniles a …

    Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has announced an agreement between law enforcement agencies and the courts that will allow first-time offenders who commit nonviolent crimes as juveniles to be issued civil citations rather than face an arrest and prosecution.