October 20, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Dinner, movie, drinks, repeat. Dinner, movie, drinks, repeat. When it comes to planning an evening out, it is easy to get stuck in a routine. Those looking to deviate from the norm might be pleasantly surprised by a new-ish concept that has made its way to the Omaha area.

Paint-and-sip studios and storefronts have been popping up throughout the metro, mixing up the social scene with the combination of wine, painting, and socializing.

Briana Lau was a little hesitant when she felt the brush in her hand at her first paint-and-sip outing at the Twisted Vine in Papillion.

“I have absolutely no artistic ability,” Lau chuckles.

But, with careful instruction, her nerves were soon calmed and the creative juices started flowing, along with a little bit of wine.

“I actually walked out with a piece of art that I plan on hanging in my bedroom. I was so surprised how it turned out and the whole process was so relaxing. You just sip a little wine and do a little painting. I could do it every weekend,” says Lau.

Lau credits her success during the painting portion of the evening to Twisted Vine owner and class instructor, Cara Ehegartner.

“Cara is so patient and kind and just explains things in a way that makes sense,” Lau continues. “She gives some general instructions, but each person gets to individualize their work, too.”

Lau’s initial visit to the Twisted Vine was with her mom.

“I was looking for something different for us to do rather than go to dinner or see a movie. It’s great because you get to talk and laugh and even meet new people, which is something that doesn’t typically happen when you go to see a movie.”

She enjoyed the night so much that she quickly returned with a group of friends and for her daughter’s 10th birthday party.

It is that need to do something different that keeps people coming back, according to Ehegartner.

“We see women looking for a new and fun girls night outing, we see co-workers come in for a group outing and even some couples who are looking to liven up their date nights. They are all looking for something new and something sort of unique,” Ehegartner says.

Dan and Jeanne Vlcek of Papillion took advantage of this new concept when planning their latest date night. The Vlcek’s chose to forego dinner and get a little creative instead.

“This date was much more memorable than a dinner or movie date, and we have the paintings to remember it,” Jeanne Vlcek says.

Ehegartner also stresses the importance of keeping the classes comfortable and laid back. She understands that the idea of painting can seem a little intimidating.

“The atmosphere in our studio and store is relaxed. Art is about creativity. People don’t need to worry about being precise and should feel free to add their own touches to their work.”

It’s those unique touches that get groups talking and laughing. Judy Thome of Bellevue attended a class with 12 friends and felt the laughs were the most memorable part of the evening.

“We just had so much fun. We were all getting the same instruction from Cara, but would look at each other’s work and would laugh at how different each of our paintings looked. It was obvious some of us were more artistically inclined than others, but it didn’t matter. We all had fun.”

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