When Erika Noriega first moved to Chico, she found there was not much for 30-something women to do.
So the doctoral student in psychology at UC Santa Barbara decided to create a fun and therapeutic outlet for the community: Painted Vino, a social event that is part art class, part girls' night out.
This weekend, Painted Vino made its debut in Santa Rosa. A second two-hour session will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at Christy's on the Square.
"People are looking for a little 'me' time, and a balance of socializing," Noriega said. "During the class, you're focused on painting and creating, but at the same time, you can talk to your neighbors."
Guests are greeted with a glass of wine and some relaxing music, then take their seats at an easel and canvas.
A professional artist leads the class through a simple image, such as a landscape or a sunset. If you're not Vincent Van Gogh and can barely draw stick figures, that's OK.
"Everyone who attends our class has little or no experience," Noriega said. "It's more about finding the therapy in the fun, and letting loose. ... It's about letting your imagination take its course."
Aprons are given out along with the paints and paintbrushes, but Noriega suggests wearing something comfortable that you won't mind tossing, if need be.
"We work with acrylic paint, and that dries very, very quickly," she said. "But some people like to dress up, because they want to do dinner afterwards."
Although Painted Vino classes tend to attract women — especially moms age 27 and up — men are also welcome to get in touch with their inner artist.