Locals and students from all walks of life come together multiple times a month to learn artistic work from an inspiring local duo through Let’s Paint, a traveling painting class. Let’s Paint started with an Appalachian State University alumna and a Boone local who both share a passion for painting.
Karina Romero, age 25, graduated from ASU in 2012 with degrees in public relations and advertising. Desiree Aparicio, 28, is a mother of three and a graduate of Watauga High School. She also served as a playmaker in her drama class.
The duo met in 2013 while working together at The Rock sports bar as bartenders and servers. Romero had a desire to start a painting class two years ago but didn’t have “Desiree’s motivation,” she said.
Aparicio describes her relationship with Romero as “balancing.” Romero’s passion for painting stems from her mom’s strong encouragement to pursue art; Aparicio’s passion comes from her tendency to paint and de-stress.
Aparicio and Romero agree that they have separate roles: Romero is the analyst, and Aparicio is the face and go-getter of Let’s Paint.
“We balance out our personalities which allows us to work very well together,” Romero said. Since Aparicio is a local, she knows other locals and asked Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff to sponsor their project. With Cheap Joe’s sponsorship, Let’s Paint receives donated easels, sponges, paintbrushes and “everything to start off,” Aparicio said.
Often, the class will take place at a bar where participants order alcohol. Developing a name for the class had Romero stumped, but the current title is “meant to be,” Romero said. After debating the name for months and trying to create an “age inclusive” title, Romero thought of “Let’s Paint” one day while driving home from Charlotte. The name, Aparicio said, does not include a reference to alcohol and does not exclude people underage or those who don’t drink.
Earlier the same day, Aparicio spoke with her sister and coincidentally came up with the same exact name. “I was going to call Karina that minute and tell her, but then I remembered she was driving to Charlotte and I didn’t want to bother her. I was then speechless when she called me that night and told me what her idea for the name was,” Aparicio said. “At that moment I knew it was meant to be,” Romero said.
Let’s Paint is open for all ages and skill levels. Each class holds a maximum of 15 participants. The class is “not technical, just fun,” they said, and is held at a variety of places including bars like The Local, The Rock and Cafe Portofino’s. Romero and Aparicio hope to involve more bars around town because of the different “interactive” audience and free publicity. They also host Let’s Paint at the La Quinta hotel.
The pair recently taught a painting class to kindergartens at Hardin Park Elementary school. The school does not have an art class, Aparicio said.
Aparicio is especially passionate about children’s events as a mother. She believes art should be introduced to people at a young age. One of her goals is “to financially be able to give more back than we keep, and each year choose a school and donate our profit to the art programs.”
Let’s Paint is available to host private events such as “girl’s night” birthday parties for all ages and bachelorette parties. In the future, the service will be available at weddings and other various occasions.
Tom Lambert, an associate of Romero and Aparicio said, “Let’s Paint is a perfect third date and the perfect couple’s night.”
Local Angie Holman recently attended a Let’s Paint session.
“We had such a great time! Desiree and Karina are wonderful teachers,” Holman said. “None of us had done anything like that before then. It was a perfect date night. I think we all surprised each other and ourselves. We will definitely be doing it again.”
At the class, attendees paint an image using acrylics to keep at the end. The sizes of the canvases vary from a 12-by-16 inch individual painting to three small 8-by-8 inch canvases that go together thematically.
Aparicio and Romero usually meet once a week to paint and “build up a library,” Aparicio said, in order to have an inventory ready to paint and teach for months to come. At the class, Aparicio and Romero host a no stress environment and play music. They also “crack cheesy Bob Ross jokes,” and walk around to give creative advice, Romero said.
“It is funny and great to see “manly” men who refuse to paint a flower in the beginning, be two inches from their canvas and super into it by the end of the night,” Romero said.
Although Aparicio and Romero love their job at The Rock, they would like to quit to devote more of their time and energy into painting and sharing the love of art. Romero said that they “aren’t afraid to travel, since we have set up time down to a science.”
“One part of our job is to encourage people and help them bring out the best of themselves. It is so cool to see people who claim to not have experience or skills do extremely well and walk out surprised at what they did. The other part of our job is to drink wine and paint — sounds terrible, right?” Aparicio said.
Aparicio hopes to see more high school and college students at their class. They want to encourage students who have to paint for their class to come to a session, she said. College art students are welcome to come and help teach classes as well.
Aparicio and Romero hope to soon get fliers and business cards to the local bars they host the events at. With the help of a bar regular and local graphic designer, Sandy Windelspecht, Let’s Paint will soon have a functioning website.
To catch a glimpse into what goes on at Let’s Paint classes, check out Aparicio and Romero’s “cheesy” video available on their Facebook page.
For bar events, the admission fee is paid at the door and is $25 per person. At La Quinta the admission fee is $30 per person and participants are allowed to bring their own alcohol provided that they are of legal age and show an ID. Private parties prices vary and depend on how many attendees and desired activities.
Let’s Paint is scheduled to hold six classes in November. They are hosting a class Nov. 3 at The Local, Nov. 6 and Nov. 12 at La Quinta, Nov. 17 at The Local, Nov. 19 at Portofino’s and Nov. 20 at La Quinta.
Those interested in attending these sessions can RSVP to save a spot via the Let’s Paint Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Letspaintncreate/, or by emailing them at email@example.com. Interested parties can also call Desiree Aparicio at (704) 779-2325.
Story by: Katie Murawski, A&E Reporter