BY: HOLLY HIGHLIFE
Let’s be honest. Yours truly is great with words but I suck at art. My artistic skills are generally limited to second grade stick figures. The thought of sipping wine while painting in public makes my palms sweat. I have performance anxiety that no amount of wine can fix. The few times I’ve done these events my “art” has gone home and directly to the trash bin.
This is why I perked up when I saw a business card for Loveland Puff and Paint with the tagline: Mary Jane, Inspiration, Creation. What? And in Loveland! A town where I’ve lived for 15 years and generally describe as, “white, right and uptight.” (Sorry, Loveland.)
Cannabis has always fueled my creativity and it was clearly time for me to investigate further. I soon found www.lovelandpuffandpaint.com. The two-month-old business venture is the brainchild of Erica Wells, who recently moved to Loveland from Long Island.
“I was living in New York and wasn’t super happy.” The enterprising 30 year-old searched on the Internet for “happiest states in the U.S.” and found Colorado. Loveland was chosen in a similar way. “I saw the name on a map and was immediately drawn to it.” After visiting a lot of Front Range cities, Wells settled on Loveland. “I fell in love with it.”
She opened the painting venture in mid-July to positive reviews and lots of interest from locals and tourists. “About fifty percent of my customers are tourists.” She describes Loveland’s reaction to the cannabis-related business as “complete positivity.”
Her studio is located in a private home, and painters bring their own cannabis flowers. This keeps everything legally compliant with Amendment 64. Of course everyone is free to share their favorite bud, as gifts of cannabis are also legal. The business provides the art supplies, snacks (lots of snacks) and a glass of wine.
So what’s class like? “At first, it is really a mix of laughter and nerves. People are unsure of what to do.” A little cannabis changes the mood. “It is very relaxing and stimulating at the same time.”
Soon the class is happily painting away. “Usually I make a painter out of just about everyone.” Classes are limited to 10 to 12 students. “I like it to be a little personal.” Wells says. “One of my favorite things is when couples paint together. They tend to get very competitive.”
The enterprise combines her love of art with solid business model. She studied art and business at Stony Brook University in New York. “I have a head for business,” says the self-described “gangaprenuer.”
Wells also donates a portion of her art space to promote the works of local artists. “I’m a big supporter of the arts community. As an out-of-towner, you’ve got to give back. I decided to give a leg-up to local artists by providing them a place to be seen.” The local art is also featured for sale on her website.
The studio welcomes all skill levels. (Thankfully!) To paint you must be over 21 and show a photo ID. Classes are held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, last two hours and cost $50. Registration is completed online and remember to BYOW. (Bring your own weed.)
Wells says “Mary Jane, Inspiration, Creation” speaks to her personal mission to show cannabis in a positive light. “We are proof marijuana is not a dead end or a dark alley. In the right setting and used responsibly it really can do wonderful things.”
After giving it more thought she concludes, “I’m sort of a pioneer in Loveland.”
I’m looking forward to my upcoming class. Who knows? For once result of my artistic time and effort may escape the Larimer County landfill.
“The remedy always works,” she assures me.