Latino culture

Successful sip and paint event


By Vanessa “Cueponi Cihuatl” Espinoza

Recently, West Liberty Public Library had a “Sip and Paint” event. This event was completely free. The library provided the canvases, acrylic craft paints, brushes, and more. Sip and Paint is a social gathering where participants come together to paint. They are usually guided by a professional artist. While they paint, they enjoy sipping on some wine, beer, cocktails, or non-alcoholic beverages. This social gathering activity originated in the early 2000s in the United States. Social art teachers were noticing that adults would take a long time to finish their paintings because they would overthink them and worried about perfecting their art piece. When alcohol started being incorporated, participants were able to relax and get rid of their self doubts, leading them to enjoy the moment.

I’ve participated in a couple of  “Sip and Paint” events and what I love about them is that they help relieve stress and that your artistic skill levels do not matter. Usually the art teacher will instruct you step by step on how to paint the object. At this event, we had Deb Weiss as our instructor. Deb Weiss is a former art teacher. She taught for 30 ½ years and retired from West Liberty High School in 2021. I asked her why she went into art education and she said “we didn’t have art teachers at the elementary level when I was young, but I always loved our Friday afternoon art times in the classroom.” She was lucky to have teachers encourage her artistic skills that they let her do special art projects once her regular work was done.

Although Deb has taught a lot of art in her life, this was actually the first time she had ever led something like this. She had participated in a “Sip and Paint” before, but never been on the teaching end. Weiss decided to combine what she learned from that session and what she felt were “best practices” from her own teaching experience for this event. Deb did not go the traditional route for this event. She gave us some general directions in stages throughout the event, but she gave us free reign to paint however best we could. She felt like this is what being a true artist is all about. In most “Sip and Paint” events, people paint the same thing like a llama, a sunset, a bowl of fruit, etc. Deb wanted us to have the option to choose. She had a wide variety of flowers from her garden in vases and everyone picked their own and began painting. In her own words “I did not want a cookie cutter art produced”. 

The event had a range of confidence in skill levels in the participants, but what helped tremendously was that Weiss went around offering encouragement and suggestions. Her positive energy was contagious and she encouraged us to take breaks to walk around and look at other people’s paintings. Prior to starting, everyone introduced themselves, something Deb believes sets the tone to the event. People must feel like they are in a safe space to let out their creativity. This helped participants see their possibilities and that in art there really are no mistakes. Weiss said “Enough instructions must be provided that they have confidence to begin, but as soon as confidence is gained, creativity and ‘artistic license’ begins to flow and that is what I love about teaching art”.

This event had such a high attendance that there were people painting on the floor. Participants said “we should do this more often” and “time went by so fast” as well as “I really needed this. I feel like all my stress just went away. Art is definitely therapy”. After the event, Deb encouraged folks to take home the flowers she had brought and encouraged them to plant them.

Through their Summer Reading Program, our local library has some pretty cool children and adult events going on all summer. Patrons can pick up reading logs and activity packets to participate. Join them this Friday for a loteria game at 5pm. If you have never played Loteria- which is like Mexican bingo, you should definitely attend! Additionally, you should check out the Brick Street Gallery. They have classes and events. You can find them on Facebook or sign up for their emails at Take advantage of these amazing opportunities that our town has to offer.