Mall biz gives art lessons

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BY COLLEEN JANSSEN: They arrived, some hesitantly, at the Paint & Sip event held by Westminster Mall.

Many expressed concern that they had little art skill, hoping their work would not be an embarrassment.

“You say ‘I’m not going to be good at it,’” said Ruth Hollis, owner of The Art Studio. “You’re right. You’re not going to be an expert the first time. This is a time to have fun and learn.”

BY COLLEEN JANSSEN: They arrived, some hesitantly, at the Paint & Sip event held by Westminster Mall.

Many expressed concern that they had little art skill, hoping their work would not be an embarrassment.

“You say ‘I’m not going to be good at it,’” said Ruth Hollis, owner of The Art Studio. “You’re right. You’re not going to be an expert the first time. This is a time to have fun and learn.”

Hollis, and her assistants, Melissa and Denise, walked the aisles, offering tips and help to the 45 participants including mostly women, and six men. A caterer served wine and hors d’oeuvres while budding artists tried their hand at painting a picture while Hollis walked them through each step of the painting process.

“I told my family to come,” said Esther Ahn, laughing. “Plus, there’s wine.” She, and two other relatives attended as a girls-night-out activity.

“We came all the way from Antelope Valley to Westminster for this,” said Jessica Esteva, who came with Stefy Esteva. “It took two-and-a-half hours, but it’s worth it.”

Each guest had a 9×12-inch canvas, a selection of paint colors, water, paper palette and a clear view of Hollis and her easel. Ahn and her relatives stepped up to take a phone photo of the finished sample of a beach chair and umbrella with the ocean in the background, using it to more easily follow along as Hollis painted up front on a demonstration canvas.

Hollis explained each step, along with giving tips on cleaning the brush, blending colors to achieve a desired effect and offered encouragement. For the most part, everyone was doing a great job and Hollis was impressed.

The event, hosted by Westminster Mall, was free to participants. Patrice Sklencar, marketing director for the mall, was happy with the size of the crowd and declared it a sell-out before the event began.

“This is part of our marketing outreach effort for the mall. We want to let shoppers know about our longer hours.  We are open Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.” She shared a list of upcoming events planned.

Sunday, May 28, the American Red Cross will hold a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Sears parking lot. June 17, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. will be the monthly KidX event for children.  June 17 will also feature a job fair from 1 to 3 p.m. The mall businesses will be hiring for the summer.

Saturday July 15, 1 to 3 p.m. is KidX, then, from 3 to 7 p.m. will be a food truck event with bounce houses, games, Folklorico dancers, Japanese Taiko drummers and more. Food trucks planned include: Jogasaki, Wings & Waffles, Richeeze, Dogzilla, and Me So Hungry.

Details on all mall events may be found online at www.WestminsterMall.com.

Hollis, who served as the painting instructor for the Paint & Sip event, is the owner of The Art Studio, at 6450 Westminster Blvd. Hollis was not always a painter. She went back to school in her 50s and earned a master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton.

“I spent seven months in France studying portraiture,” said Hollis. “I started my business in my home. Eventually, I had so many students that I opened a studio. I moved to my current location thirteen years ago.”

“I have 10 instructors who are all college grads, along with four university professors. They are all classically trained.”

Hollis’ studio offers oil, acrylic and water color painting, drawing, sculpture, abstract and copying the masters. She has classes for children and adults, along with a weekday summer camp from mid-July through August from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with an art show every Friday.

“My favorite is oil painting,” said Hollis. “The hardest part for people is getting started. They need to believe they can do it. It’s all in the attitude. I didn’t mean to do this. It grabbed me and I felt so good.”

Hollis had a business as an executive recruiter and realized one day that “she couldn’t take one more recession.”

“I went to junior college and took an art class; I don’t know why” said Hollis. “The next semester, I took seven art classes, then went to Cal State Fullerton.

“This, for me, is passion. I love what I do.”

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