In a community filled with art lovers, Ferndale's Lorea Hokanson figures she has found a way to combine artistic feedback with friendship.
She is preparing to open Date and Paint at Hannegan Square, 4071 Hannegan Road, with an open house from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 22.
Hokanson, 48, is a widow with three grown children.
Question: Lorea, what's the concept behind Date and Paint?
Answer: I want to provide a vibrant place where artists can meet to create both art and friendships, a place where socializing and fun can go along with learning about art.
Q: How will it work?
A: Date and Paint will be open four days a week, Thursday through Sunday. The cost of each session includes a canvas, the use of an easel and all art supplies needed. I will have one of my acrylic paintings mounted on a platform to serve as a "theme" for each session.
Q: Will artists be encouraged to follow that theme?
A: Yes. For example, here is a painting of a canyon at sunset. I'm not asking artists to copy the painting, but to use the theme to create a unique work of their own. That way, they don't have to waste time thinking about what they want to paint.
However, they won't have to follow the theme. They can paint whatever they want. After each session, they'll take home their paintings.
Q: Why acrylics?
A: If an artist feels he or she has made a mistake or wants to change something, that part of the canvas can be easily washed off. I use acrylics in my own work, along with oil and watercolors.
Q: Is experience necessary?
A: Not at all; I encourage anyone. I really like the idea of artists learning from each other, and I want them to leave their worries at the door.
Q: How did you learn to create such vivid outdoor scenes?
A: I'm pretty much self-taught. I love nature, all sorts of animals, water, flora and fauna - the outdoors. I realized I have a knack for it and how much I love art.
I started two years ago when I learned my husband, David, had terminal cancer. Art was a calming, peaceful influence.
Q: Were you surprised at your artistic success?
A: I was. Suddenly, family, friends, friends of friends, people who saw my work on Facebook, they asked to buy my paintings. It was very encouraging and exciting. But I also learned that I really enjoy sharing my love of art.
Q: Can artists at Date and Paint provide each other with feedback?
A: That's part of the idea. I want the artists to share their ideas and make new friendships.
Q: Will you be willing to provide instruction?
A: Certainly. My daughter Brenda, who is also an artist, will also participate. We'll be painting along with everyone else.
Q: Will walk-ins be welcome?
A: We want walk-ins, but if possible we would appreciate a call in advance so we'll have an idea of how many people will attend each session. The studio will accommodate up to 35 artists.
We'll have snacks with soda and water. I'm in the process of obtaining a liquor license, if possible, to serve wine and beer.
Q: What gave you the idea for Date and Paint?
A: I was inspired when I attended a session on a trip to Texas at a place like I want to make Date and Paint.
What: Open house at Date and Paint, in Hannegan Square, 4071 Hannegan Road, Suite R.
When: 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 22.
Next: Beginning June 27, Lorea Hokanson will hold painting sessions 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 1 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturdays; and 5 to 7 p.m. Sundays.
Cost: $35, supplies provided. Walk-ins welcome, appointments encouraged. Call 360-325-2457.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.