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Like many 20-somethings, one of the first things I did when I moved into my own apartment was adopt a pet, the first pet I’ve ever had in my life, for that matter. Although everyone told me that my cat would quickly become a member of my family, I didn’t believe them.

After all, he’s just an animal…oh, how wrong I was.

Soon every other picture I posted on Instagram was of my cat Binx, and when we celebrated Christmas together, I filmed him opening all of his presents (and yes, there were a lot of presents.) So, since it was obvious that I had, in fact, become a “pet parent,” I decided to go one step further and become a full-fledged crazy cat lady. How, you ask? By spending my Friday night painting a portrait of Binx.

Several weeks ago I wrote a story about The Spirited Painter of Marco Island, a “sip and play paint shop.” The idea is simple: the studio provides all of the materials necessary to create a canvas painting – the canvas, paint, brushes, etc. – and then participants follow simple instructions from a professional artist to create their one-of-a-kind masterpiece, all while sipping some beer or wine.

Since then, I’ve been wanting to go to The Spirited Painter, so when I heard that there was an upcoming a “Paint Your Pet” night, I immediately texted Collier Citizen reporter and fellow cat lover Ashley Collins to see if she wanted to go, and we reserved our spots that day.

“Paint Your Pet” is a little bit different than the regular classes; prior to the event, you email a photo of your pet to The Spirited Painter, and then a professional artist sketches him or her onto the canvas. So it’s more like “paint by number” rather than “follow the leader.”

When Collins and I walked into the studio, it was clear that it was going to be an intimate event since there were only six canvases set up. Our instructors – Marco Island Academy art teacher Rob Eder and local artist Kate Weaver Younger – informed us that this was actually the first ever “Paint Your Pet” event, so they wanted to keep their guinea pig class on the small side. Plus, that would allow them to give us more one-on-one attention.

Without further ado, Collins and I put our paintbrushes to work. We had a bit of a rocky start – my cat initially looked like he was wearing a bad hairpiece, and Collins’ looked a bit like a French bulldog – but after a while (and admittedly, after we uncorked the bottle of rosé we brought with us) our paintings started to come together.

Even if they hadn’t though, it really wouldn’t have mattered because the atmosphere was so fun. Eder and Younger had a great rapport with each other, and quickly developed one with everyone in the class, too, and no one took the class too seriously (I mean, how could you when the concept is so innately silly?)

The instructors were also very accommodating when it came to helping us enhance our paintings; for example, Collins wanted to add her cat’s tail (it wasn't visible in the picture she submitted, which is why is wasn’t part of the initial sketch), so Elder helped her sketch it onto the canvas, and Younger helped me figure out how to do a watercolor-esque background for the lower third of my painting.

I did feel a bit rushed toward the end and I didn’t get to add all of the details that I would have liked, but I’m also a self-proclaimed perfectionist, so I probably could have stayed in the studio for an extra five hours and still not have been done. All in all though, I’m very happy with how my painting turned out, and it was a fun, unique and strangely therapeutic evening.

The Spirited Painter typically hosts classes every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. A calendar of events is available on its website. Younger said they plan on hosting another “Paint Your Pet” event soon, probably April 21, but they’ll release more details about it as soon as the information becomes available.

IF YOU GO

The Spirited Painter

Where: 559 E. Elkcam Circle, Marco Island, Fla.

Cost: $40 per person for a regular class; $45 for “Paint Your Pet”

Information: spiritedpaintermarco.com or 239-313-0012

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