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Kick the Bucket: Lush Brush painting party at brew-savvy restaurant

2. Lush Brush workshop at Raimondo's Pizza & Pub

The latest trend in painting parties adds a novel kick. Groups that host such gatherings are adding wine and beer to the mix. Meant to vanquish creative inhibitions just long enough to paint a "masterpiece" or – more realistically – fog the brain enough into thinking you're the next Vincent Van Gogh, the painting party provides an alternative to a girls night out. Leave it up to the ladies to want to get crafty while downing liquid libations.

The appropriately-named Lush Brush workshop, which takes place at the craft-beer savvy Raimondo's Pizza & Pub in North Aurora, provides guests with a three-hour acrylic-painting class as well as hors d'oeuvres and a free beverage (wine or beer). The class, which takes place once a month on a Thursday evening, is hosted by artist, former model and stunt woman Kerri Ann Branson, who traded in a thriving personal-training business for a set of paint brushes in January 2012. With no training other than a few high school courses, she began her career as an artist and never looked back.

I attended a Lush Brush class solo Aug. 29, and thoroughly enjoyed myself – even by myself.

Just like other painting-party classes I've attended, the canvas gradually transformed by doing pieces of the work in stages, and there is plenty of time for socializing while paint dries in between steps.

With an art minor under my belt, I actually paint all the time at home, but there's something really relaxing about working all day and walking into a room where the easels are set up, canvases erect, paint and brushes supplied – oh, and here comes a bartender to take my drink order.

"Oh, thank you for the recommendation bartender; that sounds good. I think I'll try that."

Before long, I have a pint of the recommended barrel-aged Kentucky-bourbon Ale on draft sitting in front of me – and oh! It's good!

Also, did I mention that no matter how much of a mess I make, I can walk out of there, "masterpiece" in tow, without having to clean up after myself. If you're an artist, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

If not, you don't need to be. Everyone left with a beautiful abstract depiction of a red robin perched on a tree limb.

According to Branson, one of my classmates called her after the workshop saying that she was so excited/surprised by her painting that she felt the need to wake her husband from his slumber to show him what she made.

Other notable occurrences … I did get spilled on that evening. The tight quarters make it difficult for the bartender to seamlessly meander in and around the U-shaped grouping of tables, and I decided to head butt a tray of drinks right out of the poor guys hand. But, I got a free drink out of the debacle. So, I would say it was one point for Kara, 0 for the cabernet sauvignon.

The class offers various options for wine and "if you ever want to explore [the world of craft beer] – [Raimondo's] is the place to get educated," said Raimondo's part-owner Mike Treve.

It's true. I loved the bourbon ale so much that I ordered another.

Treve's response: "Why don't we try something different this time."

He later returned with two options based on my preferences – Abita Turbodog and Duvel Triple Hop – and proceeded to describe the flavors, notes and ingredients in each. I simply pointed at the next victim of my indulgence.

The next Lush Brush event will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at Raimondo's (next to the Turf Room), 1033 Kilbery Lane, North Aurora.

The monthly Lush Brush events cost $50 a person and $45 for students ages 10 to 20 years old (includes soda).

The class is capped at 15 people, so space is limited. To purchase tickets, visit For upcoming classes and more information, visit the Lush Brush workshop Facebook page.

• Kara Silva is a writer, photographer and the features editor for the Kane County Chronicle. She tackles coverage of the arts, entertainment and dining scene. As a two-year Kane County resident, she is exploring the place she calls home, one bucket-list conquest at a time.

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