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Raise a glass to learning new talents
Students can enjoy some brew while learning how to paint at the Paint It Up workshops at the Monkey Barrel.

Anna Whitmire had an idea to have art workshops for local residents to create their own masterpieces.

Now it's been five months of organizing one Sunday workshop a month at the Monkey Barrel, and the interest is as high as ever.

"I started back in November after just a crazy idea. ... It was just a group of girls and I talking about it and it just snowballed," said Whitmire, a Gainesville resident. "I really want to give a lot of credit to my cousins - they really inspired me."

Whitmire isn't an artist herself - she just uses what art contacts she has and organizes the workshops.

"I've done some of the classes and it's fabulous fun," she said. "It's cool to see what they can do in just a few hours."

This Sunday, the Paint it Up classes feature two workshops with artist Whitney Willis. The first session will feature Willis' instruction on creating a "Mermaid" painted on tin, and the second is how to create a "cool tree" on canvas.

"(‘Mermaid') is a cut piece of tin and is going to be kind of a folk art piece," Willis said. "But what we normally do are these little canvas paintings, which is acrylic paint. And that is the other one - the fun tree painting. ... I believe it is 12-by-12 inches."

Willis said the art classes are as simple as just showing up.

"We do ask that people make reservations ahead of time ... but they literally walk in and we have the canvases and the brushes, paints and pencils that they need," said Willis, who has a degree in fine art and graphic design. "And since they use acrylics, the painting is actually dry by the time they leave with it. So they can walk out of there with a piece of art for themselves or as a gift."

Between the two sessions, the Monkey Barrel will be open to serve from their menu.

Upcoming Paint it Up events feature local artists Kathleen Brown on May 4, Anna Dempsey on May 18, a surprise artist on June 15 and Kimmey Boyd on July 20. Local residents Robert Owens and Tina Roberts will be slated for a workshop date in the future.

Regional events