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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

The Gift of An Experience

~Sunday, December 5, 2021~

Day 539

A special day with my madre. Back in August, for her 82nd birthday, Jeff and I gave her a gift of an “experience”, rather than a physical gift; one that we could do together. “Paint and Sip” classes are pretty popular right now and thought it would be a fun experience tapping into our inner artist, having never done a class like this before. I had heard great things about The Painted Cork in the Sacramento area, but I didn’t find out until later that the two locations in Sacramento and Folsom were forced to shut their doors about a year ago……another casualty from the pandemic. They just couldn’t stay afloat, forcing her to think “outside the box” to continue her passion; virtual classes, birthday/company parties, rotating venues at breweries, wineries, restaurants, etc. It all seems to be working. What really intrigued me about this particular class was the “Paint Your Pet” subject matter. Mom and I both love our furry companions so much, what better way to pay tribute to them than a lasting painting?

So to Newcastle we went for a 9:00 a.m. class. I know, I know. 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and an outside class in December no less? 😳🥶I had emailed the instructor a few days before to see if heat lamps would be provided but never heard back. Anyway, the GPS took us on some absurd route to get there, with my mom all the while, claiming there was a much better alternative. But since we were already committed, we stayed with it. Many traffic lights, stop signs and a few detours later, we finally arrived at the Hillenbrand Brewhaus Brewery at 9:10 a.m., warmly welcomed by the instructor and invited to find our “painting spot” after receiving our complimentary Mimosa. We were relieved to see we weren’t the last to stroll in, nor had the class even started. Whew! It was fun to browse everyone else’s canvas while admiring our own; from cats and dogs to guinea pigs and rabbits. We finally launched into paint mode around 9:30.

Each of us (about 25) had our own table, easel, brushes and aprons. Prior to the class we were asked to email a headshot of our loyal companions so that she could produce an outline of them on a 12” x 12” canvas.

Even though the class title was called “Paint Your Pet Andy Warhol Style”, mom and I opted for a more realistic, subdued approach. We began with a small introduction on complimentary colors, blending, layering, and the ideal sequence to apply our paint. There were heat lamps on the roof, but they had a hard time doing their job with the open space. The sun tried to make its appearance through the thick mist. However, it didn’t take long for our minds to shift from focusing on the cold to concentrating on our “masterpieces”.

What was so great about the class is there wasn’t a right or wrong way of doing it. The instructor made us feel at ease without the slightest bit of intimidation and was at the ready to offer any assistance. This was the first time for most of the students, and it was nice to see all of us encouraging each other. Seeing the married couple in front of us having this fun little date day, painting similar poses of their beloved labradoodle, got me thinking that Jeff and I should do something like this too. And Jeff would have a much easier time as he is more of a natural than myself.

In the end, our paintings turned out terrific. Mom did such a great job with her “less is more” technique, using more feathered brush

strokes then applying solid color. I was really happy with my depiction of Sadie…more subdued and understated than most of the class’s paintings. Thank goodness the instructor was able to save my painting from doom by fixing the poor job I did on Sadie’s left eye at the beginning of the class. The end result……success!! Both paintings looked like our fur babies. But more than anything, we left with a great shared experience and a little keepsake in hand. Now about those mimosas…….cheers! 🥂

By the end of the class, we were famished. We talked about going out to grab a bite, but remembered we had all that Chinese food waiting for us back at the house. After a delicious meal, we moved a few pieces of furniture to make room for her Christmas tree; now all propped up and ready for trimming. Soon after, it was time for me to hit the road to avoid the fog which I encountered anyway; that and 2 accidents.

When I arrived back at the trailer, I was met with the most enthusiastic greeting that I ever did see from my pups. I think breaking up her pack, even if it was for 1 day, must have caused Sadie a little anxiety based on the reaction I received. I guess when you’re together 24/7 for 18 months straight, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

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