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Kelly Jo Designs by Wine Helps Everyone Discover Their Inner Artist

By Pamela Sosnowski

As New Mexico's first paint and sip studio, Kelly Jo Designs by Wine has taught thousands of adults and children how to paint and have fun while learning. The studio is owned by artist and ceramics designer Kelly Jo Kuchar, and she wants everyone to know that anyone can paint no matter what their experience level.

"Each guest is inherently creative and just needs the right environment (wine, music, friends!) to be able to access that," explains Kuchar. "Our simple step-by-step instructions de-stress the creative process while still allowing for each student to create a painting that is as unique as they are. Our guests range from experienced artists to people that have never even picked up a paint brush and all are universally thrilled with their creations by the end of their 2-3 hour class."

The $35 registration fee covers the cost of each attendee's supplies and instruction. While state law prohibits anyone from bringing their own alcohol to a class, food is allowed and New Mexican wine, craft beer, and cider is available for purchase at each painting class for an additional cost. Groups are welcome as long as space is available, and a private studio party may be booked on evenings when a regular class is not being held.

During each class, students are introduced to color mixing, using the entire canvas, and painting more liberally than they may have been taught before. Kuchar describes the experience as "very liberating, especially for certain personality types!"

Kuchar's background is actually in ceramics. In 1990, she and her husband Matt started making their own ceramic designs out of their Albuquerque home and selling them at the Santa Fe flea market. In 1994 the Kuchars opened Kelly Jo Designs in a production studio.

Today, a 10,000 square foot, former tortilla factory is home to the art studio in the Los Ranchos neighborhood of Albuquerque. While ceramic pieces are still heavily designed and produced out of the studio, Kuchar also enjoys introducing New Mexico residents to the joys of painting. Recently the focus has been on expanding the studio space.

"Kelly Jo Designs is unique in that guests are immersed in a true production studio workplace," says Kuchar. "They are bombarded by the colors of our pottery collections (sold nationally since 1991), the canvases and now our new outside Project Patio, featuring pillars covered with 3,000 of our hand-painted tiles. This is a new space to gather with friends, relax, drink wine and paint on pottery and canvases independently, if desired."

In additon to it's 30+ regular monthly classes, the studio also hosts fundraiser nights which have raised nearly $50,000 for local charities in the Albuquerque area thus far.

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