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    Talk about life imitating art. While sipping a glass of wine, a student at Cafe Elie’s Sip ‘n Sketch class paints a picture of, naturally, a glass of wine.
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    Wine and Design in Cornelius.
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    Larry Dellinger and Sonya Reid work on a bottle of wine and a painting during an art class at the new Wine and Design in Cornelius.
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    Sanctuary of Davidson.
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    Cafe Elie in Cornelius.
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    Owner Elizabeth Coleman (left), along with art teachers Alex Cruz (center) and Robert Theriot, all raise a cup to toast the new Wine and Design shop in Cornelius.
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    Heather Gray and Jessica Cross paint water lilies during a birthday party gathering at Sanctuary of Davidson.
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    Anne Harkness provides art instruction and some vino for friends Heather Gray, Jessica Cross and Christy Rosinsky at the Sanctuary of Davidson.
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    Carol Knight works on a painting at Cafe Elie in Cornelius.
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    Sherrie Ptak, left, watches student Tiffany Palomba, center, get painting instructions from Cafe Elie owner Elie Bou Zeidan.

Cocktails & Canvases

By KAREL BOND LUCANDER | Photography by Gayle Shomer

Posted: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

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Boston has The Urban Art Bar, Austin has Painting With A Twist and Charlotte has The Wine Palette, but here in Lake Norman there are even more options to quench your thirst for creative adventure: Café Elie, Sanctuary of Davidson and Wine And Design.

If your artistic experience is limited to Crayolas, that’s fine. This is a chance to experiment with a new medium and have some fun, aided by step-by-step instruction and your adult beverage of choice. Classes are open to everyone, but they’re sometimes tailored for a special group outing: date night, ladies night, guys only or a corporate team-building event.

Elizabeth Coleman is the newest entry in Lake Norman’s cocktails and canvases landscape. She opened her Wine and Design franchise in Cornelius last month, which touts the slogan “get your art buzz on” and “uncork your creativity.”

Coleman offers two- and three-hour classes from $35 to $50, during which attendees are encouraged to paint everything from pets and self-portraits to their homes. There are also options to add glitter and gemstones for a 3-D composition. Her instructors, formally educated at Carnegie Mellon University and The George Washington University, help you leave with art you’ll proudly display.

Artist Elie Bou Zeidan, who moved to Cornelius from Paris, France, in 2007, opened Café Elie two years ago and hosts twice-weekly Sip & Sketch classes. Bring your own bottle of vino, and for $80 ($45 for group discounts) Zeidan provides paint, canvas and supplies, along with professional instruction, cheese, crackers and coffee.

“I want everyone to love what they do here and leave happy with the painting they have completed,” says Zeidan.

After successfully painting poppies in a green meadow at Sip & Sketch with her neighborhood book club, Kathy Holden, of Huntersville, had so much fun she recruited a few business associates to go back with her to paint a canvas full of daisies. Those two paintings now hang in her home.

“I can’t paint to save my life, but with Elie breaking all the components down I was able to create artwork that I cherish,” Holden says.

Cordell Ferguson, of Cornelius, has been to eight Sip & Sketch sessions. His technique has improved so much that he recently painted portraits of his wife and daughter. “You’re going to leave with a quality painting that will build your confidence,” Holden says. “Elie loves what he does, and itshows through his art and teaching.”

At the Sanctuary of Davidson, Cocktails and Paintbrushes is one of the studio’s more popular events. For $40, you bring your own munchies and drinks, and owner/instructor Kristen Feighery equips you with art supplies. Feighery, a self-taught artist, began selling her paintings at galleries in Virginia Beach before moving to Davidson and opening the Sanctuary three years ago.

“We break things down so simply, everyone walks away with something they can’t believe they made,” she says.

In one three-hour session, the group might tackle Kandinsky’s “Trees” or a mixed-media collage painting. The studio also offers alternative projects, including making belt buckles, jewelry and decoupage, an artistic method where you use supplies such as paint and pieces of paper to create images on objects like a piece of wood.

“It’s like art camp for grownups,” says Betsey Stewart of Davidson, who’s been to several Cocktails and Paintbrushes classes. “It’s less expensive than going out to dinner, and you bring home an original piece of art.”

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