An empty canvas, a paint brush and glitter may seem daunting for untrained artists. But Decorative Artist Elizabeth VanHoutan has made artistic techniques accessible to many in Central Illinois through her successful Paint LIke Me Party over the last few years.
VanHoutan’s Paint Like Me Party took off like a wildfire in Decatur and Warrensburg, where she is currently raising her four daughters. With plans to move to Mahomet within the next year and with successful at-home Paint Like Me parties in the area, VanHoutan has given the space at 415 E. Main Street a facelift to house her growing business.
The updated space will not only serve as a studio for VanHoutan to show clients her interior decorating portfolio, but will also give Paint Like Me customers a space to freely create while interacting with their friends.
Social interaction is also a perk for VanHoutan, who paints murals and decorative finishes in newly constructed homes.
“I was looking for a way to implement a little more joy and social activity into my life because most of the time, I’m working in empty homes,” she said.
With a fresh website, logo design and an industrial chic work area, VanHoutan hopes the party planning process will not only be inviting for the customer, but also help her provide excellent customer service.
The studio space will give clients the opportunity to customize their canvas, as they will have access to supplies they may not have during at-home parties.
Party reservations can be made online. Customers can use the calendar to see what days and times the studio is open and if there is a scheduling conflict. Reservations made through the website will also help VanHoutan understand customer requests and needs.
Prices vary from $20 for a small canvas to $50 for a large canvas per customer. The Paint Like Me Studio is also equipped to host parties such as bachelorette parties, date nights and birthday parties for children ages six and up.
“You’re not expected to paint anything that’s realistic looking,” she said. “You can come into one of my classes without having touched a paintbrush before and you’re going to be happy with your results.”
VanHoutan teaches about layers, textures and techniques. She’s also devised a stencil system to get an image onto the canvas. Participants learn about gold and silver leaf, micra-flakes, activated finishes, crackle and tiny glass bead techniques.
With a variety of canvas templates, VanHoutan walks party groups through the painting process while also giving them time to socialize.
“It can be a bonding experience because everyone is so busy,” she said.
The Village of Mahomet also updated the alcohol regulation ordinance in June to allow customers to bring and consume alcohol for personal consumption while purchasing good or services from a licensed facility.
VanHoutan has also designed the space to transform into an open area for Mahomet residents to rent for private parties. She’d also like to open the space to groups of local artists or home-based businesses to display and sell their product.
The studio has already booked 11 parties over the next 10 days, but VanHoutan said until she moves to Mahomet, the studio will be open for parties some Saturdays and Wednesdays.