It’s a night out with cocktails and canvas.

On a recent weekday night, SubZero Bistro and Microlounge was full of pop-up painters.

“We are painting wine glasses, which is really appropriate, we’re at SubZero,” explained Larissa Villar Aaberg. “They have a still life on their table, so they can paint from a picture or the wine glass on their table.”

Villar Aaberg works at Alyeska Pipeline Services Co. during the day and teaches private art lessons on the side. Her love of art inspired her to start Palette, a pop-up art studio, about a year and a half ago. She hosts classes at restaurants and coffee shops around Anchorage, each with their own unique themed painting.

“It’s something really different,” she said. “They get to decompress after work with some friends. And instead of going to grab a glass, they actually come home with something they’ve created on their own.”

Her goal is to make art more approachable. Each painting can be done in four or five simple steps. Villar Aaberg brings the supplies; her students bring the creativity.

“Everyone is given the same photo they’re working from, but everybody’s art ends up completely different,” Villar Aaberg said. “And I think that’s the beautiful, fun thing about art — it’s definitely in the eye of the beholder.”

Students like Rena McDonell say having the supplies and the step-by-step instructions makes painting a little easier.

“I think that was a deterrent for me in not taking classes, because it seemed like things were so expensive. I didn’t think I was talented enough to invest that kind of money,” said McDonell.

Villar Aaberg says she’s started a good partnership with local businesses. They provide a space and she brings in customers. She said it’s also a nice way for people to unwind after work.

“Once you have a glass of wine, your creative juices start flowing,” she laughed. “And you have no inhibitions, so you end up with something bright and colorful.”

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