By MATT CRANE
Starkville community members looking to brush up on their painting skills or simply pick up a brush for the first time are in for a treat now that Occasions in downtown Starkville offers classes every Tuesday night.
Store owners and mother-daughter team Pat Ramsey and Mandee Lewis said they welcomed all groups and interested individuals to come out and experience this personalized night of painting fun.
"This is our first time doing these classes," Ramsey said. "Because of the things that Occasions offers and has offered in the past, we thought this would be a great fit being able to personalize your own painting."
Starting from a template of preset designs and pictures, Lewis said Mississippi State University freshman Jayden Pendegraph leads the painting classes.
"She's really awesome and makes people feel so at ease," she said. "This is all really about having a fun night out and if you haven't painted anything before in your life, this is a good time to try."
Ramsey said the idea of a girls night had been a drawing factor for the incoming crowds.
"We wanted to offer canvas ideas for people to create so that would have something personal and want to actually have in their home," she said. "This can be a fun night out with girlfriends because we do allow groups to bring their own food and drinks, including wine for those of legal drinking age."
Quick to point out that the evenings are not exclusively catered to females, Lewis said she was excited about future male participants.
"We have a guy signed up for our class next week which we are very excited about," she said. "We don't want the gentlemen in Starkville to think that this is not an activity for them because if a girlfriend of theirs likes a certain painting that we are offering, he can come in, paint it and offer it as a sweet gift."
Ramsey said the idea of local creation is something the store strives to support as it houses many Starkville and state artists.
"We try and feature as many Mississippi artists as possible here at the store," she said. "It is so important to support our local artists."
As businesswomen in charge of a Starkville staple that has been around for almost 30 years, Lewis said working with and in the Starkville community has been a blessing.
"This is home for us and we love working with the Starkville community," she said. "The Greater Starkville Development Partnership and Jennifer Gregory has helping really make the downtown area so much more alive over the past few years."
Offering not only in-store sessions but traveling paint classes as well, Ramsey said she is excited about continuing and returning to the original Occasions mission of personalized style and creativity.
"In getting back to some of the roots of the original store, this is the ultimate personalization project by taking something that you like and really making it your own," she said. "We hope to continue doing it and it is going to be great."
For more information on the Occasions painting classes, call 662-323-0415 or visit http://www.facebook.com/occasionsgifts .