Would you prefer wine or beer with that acrylic?

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Artists, quite notoriously, must take on other jobs in addition to their true passion for creating art, at least until their artwork becomes famous. But local artist Mikaela McLeish discovered an ingenious way to combine the two, earning money from a paying job that allows her to paint at work. In her position as an artist for the business Paints Uncorked, she leads events that make a social occasion out of an evening of art lessons, often staged as fundraisers for charities.

Artists, quite notoriously, must take on other jobs in addition to their true passion for creating art, at least until their artwork becomes famous. But local artist Mikaela McLeish discovered an ingenious way to combine the two, earning money from a paying job that allows her to paint at work. In her position as an artist for the business Paints Uncorked, she leads events that make a social occasion out of an evening of art lessons, often staged as fundraisers for charities.

McLeish brought her art instruction to East County on April 19, for 23 artists-for-an-evening who came to El Cajon’s URBN Coal Fired Pizza.

Paints Uncorked company tagline, fittingly, is “The art of happy hour.” And although URBN recently quit in-house brewing of beers, the restaurant still offers a variety of brews and wines to accompany menu items.

McLeish spoke briefly about her art and her work, as she was setting up participant easels and materials at stations on a long meeting room table at the restaurant. Her own demonstration painting, already partly completed, was positioned at a small table at the room’s front.

“This is a great event for date nights or for ladies nights out,” McLeish offered. She said that most of those who attend are beginners, attracted by something new to experience in a convivial social setting.

Only a few real art hobbyists come to the events. “And after a few drinks, even the beginners start to think they should quite their day job and go into painting,” McLeish said.

“This is my day job,” she continued. McLeish has been doing this for over a year. Paints Uncorked presents four to six such social art gatherings weekly. McLeish said that her events usually bring in 20-30 participants.

McLeish’s largest art night to date was a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which attracted 90 to attend in support of the charity that fulfills dreams of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The April 19 evening in El Cajon was staged to raise money for Together We Rise, a charitable organization that provides support to children in foster care. When Paints Uncorked leads a charity fundraiser, $10 per seat is donated to the named charity.

The URBN Coal Fired Pizza establishment is located at 110 N. Magnolia Avenue. More information on Paints Uncorked, such as art evenings at URBN, can be found at www.paintsuncorked.com.

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