Amy Hauser, owner of Whidbey Art Party, leads sip ‘n’ paint classes at the Penn Cove Brewery Tap Room in Coupeville twice monthly. Photo by Kate Daniel/Whidbey News-Times

Cultivating creativity at painting parties

Amy Hauser has made a career of empowering others. For the past 30 years, she has helped patients to overcome physical limitations through her work as a physical therapist. Through her new business venture, she’s helping people to express themselves with art.

Hauser is the founder of Whidbey Art Party, a business through which she leads step-by-step painting classes accessible to artists of all levels.

The classes are held bi-monthly at the Penn Cove Brewery Taproom in Coupeville. At a cost of $45, participants receive all necessary materials, including paints, brushes, canvas and easel, as well as a beverage — usually a glass of wine or beer or a cup of coffee.

Hauser instructs the group in creating frame-worthy works depicting subjects such as, for example, Deception Pass Bridge, a sunset at the beach or lavender fields. The goal is to allow participants to delve into art in a fun and informal setting, without worrying about the outcome.

“I believe that empowering, inviting and welcoming people to be creative is not only wonderful relaxation, but carries over into daily life and work,” Hauser said in an email. “A little glass of wine isn’t so bad to help with silencing our inner critic as well.”

Over the past two years, the popularity of “paint ’n’ sip” franchises and classes has mushroomed across the nation. Hauser, who has practiced painting and mixed-media art for some time, said she noticed the growing interest in such art parties and set out to start hosting her own early this year.

When the Penn Cove Brewing Company Taproom opened its doors in March, Hauser said she seized on the opportunity and contacted the co-owner, Mitch Aparicio.

Hauser, who is in the process of retiring from physical therapy, in part, because of a medical issue limiting the use of her hands, had never taught art before. Hauser said she was inspired to try it after having a conversation with Heidi Easley of Texas Art and Soul, a company that offers mentoring to prospective art party leaders.

The first Whidbey Art Party class, held in early April, attracted 19 students. The most recent class, held Sept. 13, was sold out.

“I’ve been very welcomed by the community,” Hauser said.

“It’s very fun and she makes it very easy,” said Dianne Johnson, who is a regular participant in the classes. “I said, ‘Amy, if you can get me past stick people, you’ve accomplished something,’ ” Johnson recalled. “And she said, ‘I guarantee I can get you past stick people.’ ”

Johnson has attended four classes since, and said she is planning on attending many more.

Hauser is also discussing with owner Brenda Marti the possibility of hosting similar courses at the new Coupeville coffee shop Sunshine Drip in the future.

“Creativity is the seat of innovation and if we want to have innovation in our society and new technology we’ve got to nurture creativity,” Hauser said, adding that she’s been pleased with the opportunity to continue helping people through painting as she did through physical therapy.

All class listings, including the subjects to be painted and cost, can be found line at https://whidbeyart party.com

“It’s a great time to go out with the girls and let your hair down and let your art out,” Johnson said.