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Uncorking creativity

Chris Dorst
Uncork & Create participants paint a winter scene lead by instructor Janet Ripper Chambers.
Chris Dorst
Janet Ripper Chambers demonstrates how to paint a winter scene during an Uncork & Create session recently. Uncork & Create is a new Charleston business where artists lead patrons through the process of painting pictures.
Chris Dorst
Janet Armentrout of Chesapeake paints snow on the trees of her winter scene during a recent session at Charleston-business Uncork & Create.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Danielle Snidow started her painting class business over the summer, she had in mind doing one or two events a month at local restaurants.By November, Uncork & Create had a permanent home on Quarrier Street."Now we're doing at least five events a week," Snidow said. "That's in about six months time it went from two events a month to five a week. That's a huge increase."Local artists lead customers through the step-by-step process of creating a painting. The business supplies the materials and participants leave with the 16- by 20-inch painting they make.During adult sessions, participants may bring their own bottles of wine. Refreshments are provided for children and family events."The great thing about our events is that you don't even need any painting experience at all," Snidow said. "Most people that participate have never painted before and they all turn out really good."Artist Ian Bode recently led a class of children through the process of painting Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night." The key to teaching these classes, he said, is finding a broad piece with a few key elements."You just try to find something that has a lot of room for the individual and whatever techniques they may or may not have," Bode said. The classes aren't meant to teach complex art concepts, Bode said."I'm not going to be up there teaching them about one- or two-point perceptive or shading or the color," he said. "But there's going to definitely be some key elements of just Art 101 that they're going to be doing in the class that I'm sure will sink in."A businesswoman with a love for local art, Snidow got the idea for Uncork from a friend doing something similar in another city."I looked around to see if we were doing anything like that in Charleston and we weren't," she said. "So I thought why not do that myself?"
Snidow oversees utility assistance programs in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee for Dollar Energy Fund. The nonprofit provides low-income people assistance with utilities. She's also earned a masters degree in business administration."I have a lot of business experience," she said. "That really went well with starting up a project. That's really what my expertise is -- starting up projects."When it started, Snidow said, it was mostly women attending Uncork & Create events.
"That's spread to include men, which I'm really happy they're participating now too," she said. "And now with our kids and families, we're reaching out to children as well, so pretty much everyone now."Snidow says Charleston is a perfect match for the business."Charleston has always loved arts and culture and something to do other than just eating out or going to the movies," she said. "I just think this was a great combination. And everyone knows everyone in Charleston, so the word spread very quickly."Bode and Snidow say participants are often surprised at how well their paintings turn out."I think that's the thing about art," Bode said. "It's so intimidating if you only see the finished product and you don't see it before."During a recent class, a group of information technology professionals were nervous about painting, Snidow said.
"They don't normally use those types of skills in their everyday job," Snidow said. "But they turned out wonderfully."You definitely don't have to feel like you have creativity, but I believe everyone has creativity," Snidow said. "They just maybe haven't tapped it yet."Reach Lori Kersey at or 304-348-1240.
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