Is it possible to reinvent yourself after you turn 50? Maria Wilson would assertively say, “Yes you can!“ That’s what she did by opening The Painted Cabernet across from the Granada Theatre on State Street a couple years ago.
You can enjoy this incredibly unique business by making an appointment (solo or with a group) to spend an evening learning how to paint while sipping wine, listening to terrific music, and making new friends. An instructor gives you step-by-step guidance on how to replicate the evening’s selected painting, which you get to take home when finished. I’m always envious of the laughter emanating from The Painted Cabernet when I walk by while a session is happening.
Maria stepped away from her easel to answer the Proust questionnaire.
What is your current state of mind?
Still pretty busy with the second studio that we opened in Oxnard but the team has really stepped up and doing a great job. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed but I do my best to remain cool, calm, and collected by keeping track of things with lists. Wine helps too.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I have three: one, raising an incredible daughter who makes me proud everyday; two, I grew up painfully shy and am proud to say I am no longer shy; and three, I reinvented myself and started a successful business after 50!
What do you like most about your job?
I love it when customers insist they cannot paint or draw a straight line for that matter, and are truly shocked they were able to paint a beautiful painting. Most customers have an “aha” moment when they realize what they’ve accomplished! It’s an awesome feeling to see their big smiles and sense of accomplishment. I love all of my employees and going to work is fun!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being with my family and having our traditional Sunday night dinner. I love the smell of cooking and being in our cozy home. We lead a fairly busy life and this really helps ground us as a family. Everyone knows that you never, ever miss a Sunday night dinner. A nice glass of wine is a nice bonus!
What is your greatest fear?
That’s easy: public speaking. I think it would be easier to go sky-diving than to speak in front of a large group. The good news is I don’t have to do it often.
Who do you most admire?
My husband, Monte. He is super-smart, funny and has a calming demeanor. Wish I had his math brain and his memory for facts!
What is your greatest extravagance?
Travel. I love to plan the getaway of where we’re going to stay, where we’re going to eat, and learning things about other areas and cultures. We’ve been very fortunate to have visited the places we have and see the things we’ve seen. I think it makes you a better rounded person knowing that there are different ways of looking at things and different cultures in the world.
What is the quality you most like in people?
I love people who are genuinely sweet and happy. I always try to remain cheerful and I love to see that in others. Life is too short to be cranky plus I’m a big believer in karma. I see that happen a lot when people are rude or harsh with other people, it tends to come full circle at some point.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Being harsh, abrasive, or entitled. It always surprises me when people behave this way especially when you think of how small our problems are compared to other parts of the world.
What do you most value in friends?
Friends who genuinely care for each other. We have a very diverse group of friends and no one ever seems to care what each other does or has. It just never comes up. We genuinely just enjoy the company and time together.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I can be sarcastic when provoked and stubborn if I feel like someone is trying to take advantage. I tend to be very loyal and hard working.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Sorry. I tend to apologize too much. Trying hard to break that habit!
Which talent would you most like to have?
Gosh, which one to pick – singing or public speaking. Can I choose both? I don’t think you’ll be seeing me on any American Idol-type shows or TED Talks. Just not in the genes.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Stop making excuses why I never have time to exercise. I know I need to do it, I want to do it, but I always seem to make an excuse when the time comes to actually do it.
Where would you most like to live?
I’m here. After being gone for 20-plus years, I just love everything about Santa Barbara. It’s such a sense of community. I feel so privileged and lucky to return to live in Santa Barbara. This is my Shangri-La!
What is your most treasured possession?
I would definitely say my health and the health of my family.
Who makes you laugh the most?
My four silly pets: Louie (Westie), Coco (Westie), Lulu (Morkie), and Buddy (Cockatiel). They all love each other and just watching them is as entertaining as anything I’ve ever seen.
What is your motto?
Balance and moderation is how I love to live my life.
On what occasion do you lie?
I try never to lie. It’s back to the karma thing. It’s very dangerous to start a lie and then have to live it. I find I sleep better with a clear conscience by being as honest as possible. The only deviation might be the little white lie when I really don’t like something I ate. I just can’t bring myself to say I don’t like it. I don’t think I’ve ever sent anything back at a restaurant. I just say it’s fine and then I eat it.