When you walk into Paintilicious Art Studio (63 Dempsey Rd.), the first thing that strikes you is the sense of space. The studio breathes. You’re neither cramped nor uncomfortable; in fact, right away, your mind starts roaming free…

And as it roams, you’re brought to the second thing that strikes you: the artwork hanging on the walls. Rich in color, vibrant in form, refined in technique. 

Should you wish to create a piece of your own, you’ve come to the right place.

Paintilicious’s owner, Dolly Shah, launched this studio space this past March (they celebrated their one-month anniversary on April 11), but has been teaching people how to draw and paint for a much longer time:

“I was running my business out of my home for the past eight years,” Shah explained, “and I just thought it’s time to expand and move to an actual physical location.”

The studio offers drawing and painting classes to kids, teens, and adults. Almost 30 kids, Shah’s pre-existing clientele, have signed up for classes so far. For Shah, who lives five minutes from the studio, having this business represents a lifelong passion:

“My dad, he just wanted me to pursue science, or maybe business,” Shah explained, stating that during her time growing up in India, art was not something she could consider as a career path. And her father, who was in the diamond jewelry business, certainly foresaw a non-artistic future for her. 

Said Shah, “Science wasn’t my cup of tea at all.” As such, she veered in the direction of business. After moving to the U.S. and enrolling in a Tennessee university in 1997, she got her undergraduate degree in Business Administration, after which she pursued a career in Human Resources.

Still, as the years passed, she nurtured her artistic impulses. When she had two kids, she wanted to work from home, so she started giving art classes there. 

 

 

At the rear of Paintilicious Art Studio is a party room for private occasions, which people can rent for birthday parties or other special events, creating art on canvases or with clay. The supplies fee is built into the rental fee, so guests are not only given the materials to create with, but afterward, they get to take their creations home. 

Also, this past April 12, the space hosted its first Paint Night, an event which Shah hopes to see occurring monthly. During Paint Nights, an artist guides the class in painting a specific piece, and those who attend also get to enjoy music and food. “I don’t have a license for wine yet,” Shah added, indicating that wine could show up there in the future.

When Shah looks at established art schools in Fremont, which have accumulated 100-plus students, she feels she would certainly like to reach that level herself. In the meantime, though, she emphasized that her students’ learning experience was of paramount importance to her:

“They need to walk out of here, thinking that OK, they’ve walked out with some sort of value. Learning something…”

For Shah, the value of learning isn’t merely theoretical; it’s an ongoing way of life. A self-taught artist with no formal degree, she shared, “I feel I’m evolving as an artist every day. So I learn so much from the kids…”

For example, sometimes the students will use color combinations she hadn’t thought of, not only educating her, but inspiring her, as well.

On an equally inspiring note, Shah shared a story about a particular mother who was experiencing financial hardship, and couldn’t afford the studio’s classes for her son. But the son valued attending Paintilicious so much that the mother cut down on other expenses to make it work. To Shah, this showed what an important role art classes can play in a child’s life: “That was something I really appreciated.”

The studio, which is open during evening hours, is by design a multipronged entity:

“If you want to learn,” said Shah, “you come for the classes. If you want to just come socialize and still paint, you come for one of the Paint Nights. And then if they want to get together with their own private people…have a private team painting event over here…” She gestured toward the party room.

Sometimes Shah’s own kids pop in, as well, although their schedules are busy. Her 10-year-old son is into soccer. As for her 16-year-old daughter, Shah says she has amazing artistic talent. But whereas Shah herself grew up craving art yet being unable to pursue it, her daughter’s own art is a secondary concern:

“She wants to be a doctor,” Shah said with a supportive smile. “The irony of it!”

 

 

Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro is a writer and filmmaker. He is the author of six critically acclaimed fiction books, among them the novella "It's Only Temporary" (2005), which appeared on Nightmare Magazine's list of the Top 100 Horror Books, and numerous short stories published in anthologies alongside work by H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and many others. His nonfiction articles have been published on The Daily Dot, Ravishly, and The Good Men Project. His first feature film, "Rule of 3" (2010), won awards at the Fantasia International Film Festival and Shriekfest, and had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest. His second feature film, "Living Things" (2014), was endorsed by PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) and distributed by Cinema Libre Studio. In 2015, he won the 19th Annual Fade In Award for Thriller Screenplays. He was a founding partner of Ghostwriters Central, a writing and editing firm which received positive notices from The Wall Street Journal, Consumers Digest, and the TV program "Intelligence For Your Life." Eric has edited works published on The Huffington Post and Forbes, as well as two Bram Stoker Award-nominated novels.

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