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Creative Juices

Scottsburg artist Merriman to lead
art classes with a twist

Jeeves & Company patrons can enjoy
wine while painting

(February 2014) – Artist and instructor Bruce Merriman often finds himself working with students who may have a love of art but who doubt their own ability to create it. “I have people tell me all the time, ‘I can’t draw a straight line,’ to which I respond by saying, ‘that’s great because we are painting!’ ”
Merriman, 31, of Scottsburg, Ind., recently teamed up with restaurant owner Matt Goans to offer “A Glass with Class” painting sessions at Jeeves and Company restaurant, located on the Courthouse Square in Scottsburg. During these classes, students are able to enjoy wine, inspiration and the discovery of their own artistic talents.

Merriman
Merriman

“The idea for ‘A Glass with Class’ started from my passion for art and getting others to appreciate it also,” Merriman said. “I wanted to show others that you don’t need to be a trained artist to complete a painting, have fun doing it and feel proud about your finished piece of art. Art and wine are a good fit because having a glass of wine with friends is fun and adds a level of comfort so you can paint freely and just have fun.”
The classes are designed to allow students to create a complete painting in one session of about two and half to three hours. Available for groups of six or more, the classes are scheduled at the convenience of the participants and cost $40 per person. All of the art supplies are provided, and students are able to select their choice of wine from Jeeves and Company’s many house wines.
On Valentine’s Day, the restaurant will play host to a special date night class session for couples. For this event, there is no minimum class size. Merriman is particularly excited about this class saying, “I have created a Valentine’s themed painting that couples will paint together. Couples will enjoy wine and a fun-filled evening of working together. At the end of the evening, they will take home the piece along with the memories made. It will be a one stop Valentine’s date evening destination.”
“We stole the idea of what’s successful in Louisville and New Albany,” Goans says, laughing. He adds that he had learned of area residents who had been traveling to attend similar art classes and wanted to provide a local option. Goans says that he and Merriman want to “see if we could build something really neat.” He goes on to explain that he was encouraged by the fact that Merriman has experience teaching as well as being “a local guy, that was appealing to us.”
A painting class “just fits with what we are trying to do” at Jeeves and Company, Goans says. He is working to reinvigorate the 28-year-old business he purchased a little more than a year ago and says he is excited to build on the restaurant’s award-winning past. He hopes that the classes will be something interesting for regular customers and will also be a way to introduce the restaurant to new people as well.
Goans says he is eager to take advantage of the restaurant’s extensive upstairs space to “do some unique things,” and he is considering bringing in entertainment such as comedy acts.
The painting classes have been carefully designed to help ensure that participants have an enjoyable time exploring art in a non-intimidating environment.
Merriman says, “I have been teaching these classes for a while now. I hope to keep the personal, laid back atmosphere I’ve succeeded with this far. Other similar painting classes down south can have as many as 40 people in a class. The lack of personalization in these larger groups keeps the atmosphere to more of a classroom feel instead of a warmer friendly feel. I strive to make everyone feel like I spent individual time with him, even if they didn’t need me for that. That way I can build a personal relationship with them and their painting.“
Even the paints have been selected to help give students a better chance at creating a picture that they can enjoy for years to come. “We paint using acrylic paints which are water based so if you feel you’ve made a mistake we can fix it easily. Acrylic paints also dry quicker than oils so at the end of the class you are able to take your piece home with you without the mess of other mediums,” say Merriman.
He sees the classes not only as a way for people to connect with their own person talents but with other people as well. “Art brings people together in a way few things can.”
The classes are based around a variety of sample paintings, from which the students will select for their own interpretation. Having an example gives the lesson a good jumping off point by providing inspiration and structure.
“I will instruct as we paint on certain areas to help make it as easy as possible, but they have creative freedom to do the painting as they see fit,” Merriman says. “Color schemes are another area where they have freedom so that they may design to their tastes and decor style.”
He says that while the sample pictures help provide a guide for students, he encourages them “to not copy.” “Every finished product should represent that individual’s personality.”
When he is not helping students learn to appreciate their personal talents, Merriman stays busy with his own work. “I enjoy finding broken objects at thrift shops, yard sales and even on the side of the road and re-invent them in a new way. My philosophy is anything can be art. I still create drawings, paintings and do commissioned pieces for customers but recreating a piece of trash nobody wants into something people cherish again is my biggest passion.”

• To schedule a class or sign up for the Valentine’s Day event, call Jeeves and Company at (812) 752-6559.  For more information on Merriman’s work, visit: www.thestarvingartistcollection.com.

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