Painting & Drinking: An Evening at Milwaukee’s Splash Studios



The last time I put a brush to canvas was college. In my art class, I could never get anything to look how I wanted it. It was always frustrating.

Thanks to Splash Studio, in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward, I now know that one element could have turneded those futile attempts at art into carefree fun … alcohol.


So along with my brother, Nate, and sister-in-law, Carrie,  Michelle and I reserved a spot at Splash on a snowy, early-March Saturday for the 3-hour Miller Park painting session. Each session at Splash offers a different model painting and an instructor to explain how to do it.

Walking into Splash, I was overtaken by the densely packed, large studio, and loud pop music. We each paid our $33 and were shown to our seats (reservations are heavily recommended). Splash provides everything you need for painting: smocks, paint, brushes and canvas.

They have a small, but strong offering of local beers — as well as wines and mixers — all reasonably priced.


As we waited for our session to get started, we discussed our shared lack of artistic ability and the hopes that they would instruct us slowly. I looked at the sample painting that we would be trying to recreate, and then at my blank canvas with a hearty skepticism.

Right on the hour, our painting instructor, a younger woman, took the stage and let us know that she would be walking us through each step, offering direction and tips.

Backgrounds: left is Michelle's, right is mine.

Backgrounds: left is Michelle’s, right is mine.

We would quickly learn that everything — from the amount of pumps of paint we would need to the brushes we would use for each feature — is carefully planned and clearly explained.

That said, Splash allows each painter to follow their own muse. For instance, though the painting we were basing ours off was a night scene, with a purple background, I opted for the bright blue background — there is no right and wrong at Splash — and a sunny day at Miller Park is what interested me on that wintery evening.


After each series of instructions, it was more Lady Gaga or Rhianna. Michelle was loving it!

It was also fun, when going to get more paint or beer, to see all of the other paintings as they came together–each following the same basic principles, but also unique.

We began to work on smaller details, like shading on the panels of the roof. I was pleased with how mine was turning out … the beer was working.


Slowly, but then all at once, our paintings began to come together. In addition to our instructor’s suggestions, I continually looked at the painting we were modeling ours after for guidance.

In what seemed like an extremely short time, which was actually about two-and-a-half hours, we were nearly finished.

We finished with yellow and white accents, meant to make our paintings pop.


We were all surprised at how well each of our paintings turned out–much better than we would have imagined coming into the night. We followed painting with dinner a short walk away at The Wicked Hop.

My friend, Shannon, went a few weeks after us and also enjoyed her time. She said it would be a great place for single guys to go–there are lots of groups of girls there.

Splash was a good value and a great way to spend a Saturday evening–it is the most fun I’ve had painting … well, ever.

Visit Splash Studio online here.


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