Santa Ynez artist Christi Schaeffer is helping people discover their inner artist through her recently launched Art on Wheels, a mobile painting party that takes place weekly at different vineyards throughout Santa Barbara wine country. With 10 events already hosted since starting the program in January, Schaeffer spends two hours helping guests create their own custom painting of the beautiful Santa Barbara landscape while they sip a complimentary glass of wine.
Schaeffer, a painter who used to work at an art studio in San Marino, first got the idea for Art on Wheels last November after she began working at Kalyra Winery. “I really wanted to do my own thing,” she said. “I started working at Kalyra and got in the wine industry, and then I thought, ‘What a perfect combo, to paint and enjoy wine in a beautiful winery.’” Every Sunday, Schaeffer, whose overall company is known as Gypsy Art Studios, hosts guests of all levels through the landscape painting process. “It is a lesson, and it is step-by-step, but you can paint whatever you want,” she explained. “I’ve had everything from someone who’s never held a paintbrush before to experienced oil painters. Really, it’s great for anyone. It’s fun no matter what.”
For Schaeffer, working with people of all ages and varying levels of experience is what makes the process so rewarding. “It’s really all about the people for me,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to lead people through a creative experience because that has been so transformative in my life. I want other people to experience how great and fun and therapeutic it is, and how healing it is.”
By making the process enjoyable and simple to follow, Schaeffer hopes to motivate people to continue exploring artistically. “Creating is probably one of the most vulnerable experiences you can have, but if you take the edge off and reduce everything step-by-step and make it fun, it becomes a more approachable experience,” said Schaeffer. “This is a way to make it kind of fun and easy.”
Guests agree. “I’ve had lots of great feedback,” she said. “Every time I do an event, I’m just stoked afterwards. One lady, an oil painter, hadn’t painted in two years since her husband died, and she was painting again for the first time with me. It was such a cool experience to see how excited she was to be painting again.”
Although there are painting workshops, like The Painted Cabernet, Art on Wheels is currently the only mobile painting party in the area, uniquely taking guests into an entirely new environment to make art. “Why not take advantage of the gorgeousness that is the valley here?” asked Schaeffer. [CORRECTION: The Painted Cabernet does now offer classes at wineries and vineyards, according to its owner, Maria Wilson, as well as private off-site events.]
Schaeffer hopes to expand to private and kids’ parties and add formal art lessons for those who want to further develop their skills. For more information or to sign up for the next event on Sunday, March 22, at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard, see gypsystudiosart.com.