Alpine Arts Center Cocktails and Canvas Class – Paint Your Pet

Alpine Arts Center is located a stone’s throw from the front door of The Inn at Riverwalk in Edwards. It is an art studio primarily known for its family-friendly offerings like Cupcakes & Canvas, Mommy & Me Get Messy, and various kids camps. It may be true that once one reaches adulthood, there just isn’t the time or energy left in the day for certain enrichment activities like painting or pottery. Alpine Arts Center thinks that should not be the case and it offers an array of adult-oriented classes. We decided to let the creative juices flow and give one of those classes a try.

Paint Your Pet is one of the variations of the Cocktails and Canvas series offered Saturday evenings 6:30-8:30. As a pet friendly hotel with an unofficial mascot/office dog named Sage, this particular class was the perfect fit.

The format for registering and the class are as follows:

  1. Sign up online.
  2. Submit a photo of your pet(s), or any animal you’d like to draw 1 week in advance.
  3. Alpine Arts Center staff sketch an outline of your photo on canvas.
  4. Arrive at 6:30, grab a beer or glass of wine for $6, and say hello to your fellow artists.
  5. Find your canvas, throw on a delightfully paint-covered smock, and summon your creativity. 
  6. Paint your heart out and create a masterpiece!

The original photo submission was of Sage and her sidekick, Leo. The class is only 2 hours long and painting two animals was definitely a challenge. The good news is, anyone who doesn’t finish is encouraged to come back during studio hours and perfect his or her painting.


The most difficult part about making your vision a reality can be sketching out the initial outline. For someone who isn’t artistically inclined or is just out of practice, this step can be intimidating. Lucky for us, the Alpine Arts Center staff takes the liberty of giving you just the faintest pencil sketch to use as a guide.


Two instructors walked us through the basic steps and helped us along the way. Since every pet photo was different, the instructions provided general guidance rather than a rigid step-by-step process. Still, it was enough to give everyone the confidence and freedom to paint in their own style. First, we were told to create a background color. It took 3 tries to get the perfect two-tone look for Sage and Leo’s portrait.

Then, we learned different techniques for creating fur textures. Some folks had flat-coated dogs while others had fluffy cats and we had a big curly pup to paint. The hardest part was getting Sage and Leo’s respective fur colors just right…so we got a little help mixing from one of our instructors.

At first, we wondered how in the world these amateur paintings would become beautiful representations of our beloved pets. We were given large brushes with which we made sloppy strokes in an attempt to create a masterpiece. The key, we found, was to just keep going. The more you mix your paint and the more layers you add, the more interesting and textured the painting becomes.

It was fun to walk around the room every so often and see clearly the different styles each participant was trying out. Some went for hyper-realistic and highly detailed methods while others went bold with blue, pink, and orange dogs on a background bursting with even more colors. The real wonder was no one talked about work, finance, or responsibilities. Everyone was so focused on what was in front of them that there just wasn’t time to worry about mundane concerns. The atmosphere in the room was positive and most participants made a point to travel about offering sincere appreciation for each painting. Even the more timid painters who thought they weren’t doing all that well were beaming when fellow artists stopped by to offer praise for a beautiful color or a flare of detail.

Before we knew it, time was up. We finished up small details like whiskers and noses then signed our names in the corners.

The final result!

Overall, we were so glad to have attended the Cocktails and Canvas class. It was a nice departure from the norm and a wonderful reminder to take time to learn a new skill in a positive environment with a few new companions. Classes are open to visitors and locals alike. We highly recommend stopping by Alpine Arts Center for a class!

See the full schedule of classes here.