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At Painter’s Pot, budding creatives find cannabis and community 

High art

click to enlarge KIMBERLY HOADLEY
  • Kimberly Hoadley
T

he idea that cannabis promotes creativity is hardly novel, but basing a business on it sure is.

Painter's Pot functions as a private, participatory art studio that provides a 4/20-friendly environment for painting. That means exactly what it sounds like: Smoking cannabis is not only allowed, but encouraged, while expressing yourself with paint at the discreet studio located at 3720 Constitution Ave.

Founder and owner Teddi Roberts conceived of this unique canna-business model while at Painting With a Twist — a national franchise with five Colorado Springs locations that offers painting classes paired with full glasses of red wine. The experience is sort of like a kid's birthday party for adults. But Roberts thought it odd to feature alcohol, a substance that impairs expression and dampens dexterity, over the obvious alternative. "Cannabis is my twist," she jokes.

Painter's Pot isn't just meant to be a fun night out — it's therapeutic too, attracting people with conditions that make more conventional social settings uncomfortable and overstimulating. Roberts recalls one guest, a young woman whose epilepsy keeps her mostly homebound, whose visit to Painter's Pot was a rare recreational opportunity. Seasoned painters looking for a safe place to partake come too, as do newbies, including a 68-year-old woman who tried marijuana for the first time during one of the classes.

"The only thing you think about while painting is painting," says Roberts, highlighting the therapeutic properties of art. Knowing many veterans could benefit from both cannabis and a relaxing activity, Roberts reached out to them to gauge interest in what she was trying to create. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

click to enlarge Owner Teddi Roberts and artist Sara Violet. - KIMBERLY HOADLEY
  • Kimberly Hoadley
  • Owner Teddi Roberts and artist Sara Violet.

"If you guys wanna get high before we start — absolutely," Roberts announces to the class as assistants scurry around setting up canvases. Shortly after, Roberts walks the aisles of easels with a tray of pot samples — complete with a variety of indica, sativa and hybrid strains — free to customers who want to try smoking cannabis. Before the class officially starts, those who want to smoke retreat to a ventilated room in the corner. When they return, the class is turned over to master artist Sara Violet.

Violet guides the class through painting: a blue-sky background, classic mountains, some "happy" trees and finally, a big Colorado "C." She also shows everyone a few extra techniques they can try, like making the "C" drip stylishly.

Even the instructors here use cannabis while the class is in session. Violet says being a little medicated helps her calm down and lead the class, but she avoids getting too stoned because she wouldn't want to space out and forget she has a class to teach.

Outside of teaching classes, Violet also creates a lot of the paintings used in the classes, based on what customers want. She says the Colorado "C" is a common theme. Galaxy paintings also tend to be crowd-pleasers because they give people free rein and they get to splatter paint.

click to enlarge Roberts, who often smokes too, offers a selection of buds to a painter. - JAKE MILLER
  • Jake Miller
  • Roberts, who often smokes too, offers a selection of buds to a painter.

Between steps in the painting, Violet takes time to answer questions or help anyone wanting to change their painting. Painter's Pot puts a lot of effort into making sure everyone leaves with a painting they're excited to show off. Meanwhile, other guests sing along to a Rush song playing in the background and some admire artworks around the studio. The walls are covered in paintings from previous classes as well as a giant tree mural done by Violet.

At the end of class, Violet reminds everyone to sign their paintings before Roberts rounds everyone up for a group photo. If you aren't out of the cannabis closet to friends and family, no worries — faces are never shown in the class picture.

"It's laid-back fun, and I've always been happy with the outcome of my painting," says Brinkley Meyers, a regular who first visited Painter's Pot a year ago. To anyone on the fence, Meyers says to give it a shot because it's always a blast in an environment that anyone can enjoy, stoner or not.

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