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Posted: April 21, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Supporter Spotlight: Splash into Art

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People looking for a unique date idea or a different way to have fun with friends and family should consider newly opened Splash Into Art, where customers create their very own 16-inch by 20-inch painting in less than three hours.

Located at 2009 Iris Drive SE in Conyers, Splash Into Art is the latest in a trend of new businesses around the nation, where trained painters show customers how to recreate a single painting in one sitting.

"This is 100 percent something for fun. You don't learn to be a painter; you learn how to paint a specific picture," said Owner Gary Ezell, who also owns the photography business Ezell's Studios.

Ezell said he opened Splash Into Art because the economy was wreaking havoc on his photography studio and he was looking for another way to generate income. He got the idea for the store from his employees, several of whom went to a similar business in Cobb County.

"I kept hearing how much fun everyone was having and people were talking about the Cobb County business on Facebook. It sounded like fun, and I thought it could be another way to generate income," he said. "So I went up and tried it for myself. I said if my painting doesn't look like a 5-year old painted it, then this could be a business. My wife, my granddaughter and I went, and my painting did not look like a five-year-old's."

Splash Into Art held its official class on April 1 in Ezell's Studios and has since held several more classes.

The process goes like this: customers go to online calendar at splashintoart.com and select their favorite painting. A different painting is painted each class. They then can sign up online, by phone or in person. The cost is between $25 to $35 per person, depending on whether the class is a two-hour class or a three-hour class. The customer then comes to a class and is shown step by step how to recreate the painting. At the end of the night, the customer gets to take their 16-inch by 20-inch canvas home to keep.

Classes are usually held in the evenings, on weekdays starting at 7 p.m. and on Saturday starting at 6 p.m. Adult classes are for anyone above the age of 12, but those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Kids' classes are offered on Saturday afternoons for children between the ages of 7 and 12.

Similar to his first time painting, Ezell said customers are surprised at how well their paintings turn out.

"It's amazing how so many paintings look like the original painting. But for some paintings customers can choose a variation of background colors, and in a recent vase painting there was a lot variation in the shapes of the vases," he said.

The subject matters for the paintings are chosen by the instructors and Ezell based on popular contemporary art, ideas from customers or inspirations that come to instructors. One instructor is an art student at the University of Georgia, so on May 22 customers will be able to paint a red UGA football helmet set against a black background. Other popular subjects include dresses, flowers, landscapes and wildlife.

On May 25, Splash Into Art will have a special Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer class, where half of the sales will be donated to the cancer research effort. The painting that night will be a black evening gown, likely with some pink background elements or perhaps a ribbon. Ezell said he'd like to have a special non-profit themed painting class every month.

Ezell said the classes are particularly popular among women, but he said more men are joining. The classes are popular among married and dating couples. Office Manager Sandra Griffin said the classes are a great idea for a girls' night out or mother-daughter bonding.

The average class size is 15 people, but classes can range between eight and 26 customers. One instructor and one helper are at every class. Ezell said it's best to sign up online to reserve a spot, but walk-ins will be accepted if there is enough room in the class. If the classes continue to grow, Splash Into Art will eventually be moved into its own building and more classes would be offered.

"Everything is encouraging. People are posting very positive comments. They are enjoying their time, and we're trying to keep the prices as reasonable as we can," he said. "It's a great way to keep employees working in this economy and a great opportunity for friends to spend a great night together."


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