The Hippo


May 26, 2020








The new Wildflower Studio space in Concord. Courtesy photo.

Wildflower Studio grand opening  

When: Sunday, Jan. 7, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Where: Wildflower Studio, 200 N. State St., Concord 
Cost: Free 
More info:,, 661-5125

Brushing up
Paint party and art studio opens in Concord

By Angie Sykeny

 For Concord artist Annie Bell, letting go of inhibitions and getting messy is an essential part of the artistic process — which is why her paint party service, Wildflower Studio, gives people a place to create without judgment and without the clean-up. 

“They don’t have to be an artist, and they don’t have to put pressure on themselves. It’s not about being a Monet or becoming a professional,” Bell said. “It’s about having fun and seeing that, with some guidance, you can create something beautiful, and what you create will always be a reminder of the great time you had with your friends.” 
Wildflower Studio has operated solely as a mobile business, hosting parties at private residences and at community venues willing to lend their space, but on Jan. 7, it will open its doors at a new permanent studio home located on North State Street in Concord. The studio has a smaller space that accommodates eight to 10 people and a larger space that accommodates about 20 people. 
In addition to private paint parties, Wildflower Studio will expand its offerings at the studio to include public paint parties and other painting events, mommy-and-me classes, private and group lessons, various craft workshops and more. There will also be a regular art club for kids under age 10 on Saturday mornings, and for kids and teens age 10 and up on Saturday afternoons. The younger group will participate in activities like painting with unconventional tools like kitchen utensils, toys and their hands; making goop and slime; and making toys from recycled materials; while the older group will learn art techniques and create in a variety of media, such as acrylic paints, watercolor, drawing, clay, papier-mâché, duct tape, art journaling and more. 
Bell has been doing art all her life, but her true passion, she said, is teaching it. Prior to opening Wildflower Studio, she taught art at a local school and to kids enrolled in her home daycare service. She didn’t try teaching art to adults, however, until three years ago when she hosted her first paint party for a group of friends. Having never attended a paint party herself, Bell figured it couldn’t be much different from leading a kids’ art class. 
“I didn’t know how other people did [paint nights] so I just did my own thing and tweaked my lesson plan to present the techniques in a way that [adults] could easily understand and implement,” she said. “It was a lot of trial and error.” 
The business “grew organically,” Bell said, mostly through word of mouth; friends of friends started requesting private paint parties, then churches and schools started asking her to do paint party fundraisers. 
“It was always in the back of my mind to turn it into a business. I just didn’t have the confidence at first to think I could really do this as a career,” she said, “but it got to a point where I was scheduling [paint parties] out months at a time, and the more I did them, the more I fell in love with it and thought, ‘I really want to do this, and I want to do more.’ 
Paint parties run about two hours for adults and one hour for kids. Bell guides participants through a three-step composition process to paint a scene based on a decided theme, like a beach or a forest. First, they paint the background, then the main structure or focal point, and lastly, the details. Bell keeps the instructions basic to give participants the freedom to add their own flair. 
“Everyone uses different kinds of brush strokes and different colors,” Bell said. “I like there to be a lot of variables like that so people can make their own decisions and find their own creativity and give their painting their own look. At the end of the class, everyone has a different-looking painting.” 
At the Wildflower Studio grand opening celebration, people will have a chance to explore the new space and enjoy refreshments and free arts and crafts activities for kids and adults. Sign-ups for classes will be available through the studio’s website. 

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