The concept of “art” is, in and of itself, very subjective. From abstract, to performance, to ceramic and everything else in-between, there is no shortage of mediums that can be considered art. The true skill of an artist isn’t so much a steady hand or an interpretive mindset. It is the ability to unleash beauty and inspiration in the world around them.
Not everyone believes that they have that type of artistic ability. But Rebecca Szpaicher would politely disagree with them. And having been involved in art education for the past thirty-two years, she has definitely earned an opinion in the matter. While residing in Ellicottville, Rebecca has taught art in the Little Valley, Franklinville, and most recently Springville school districts - where she has been for thirty years. Her preferred form of artistic expression is ceramics and jewelry, but like any good artist, she appreciates all aspects of art. She enjoys Western New York because of the seasonality of the area, which tends to directly influence her paintings.
Like many children, Rebecca was first introduced to the world of art when she was in school, and her high school art teacher ended up being a huge source of inspiration to her. While a strong art curriculum should be a foundation of every child’s life, art is not just for the kids. In fact, in adults the creation of art has been linked to a reduction in the overall level of stress in one’s life, an increase in the creative thinking process, the boosting of self-esteem, and has even been proven to ease the burden of certain chronic health conditions. When you look at the potential benefits of allowing yourself to indulge in the arts, it almost makes no sense not to!
For those reasons, and many others, Rebecca started up Canvas-N-Cocktails - events where a night out with a nice glass of wine goes hand-in-hand with discovering your inner Picasso. She came up with the idea for the classes after a friend of hers went to a similar class in San Diego and, knowing that Rebecca would love the concept, told her about the great time that she had. After that, Rebecca’s daughter treated her to a local painting class as a Mother’s Day gift. Soon thereafter, Rebecca decided to embark on Canvas-N-Cocktails. She held her first class in November of 2015 with eight of her close friends, who all naturally had a phenomenal time.
Canvas-N-Cocktail class sizes can reach upwards of 40 people, but Rebecca says that she tries to make all of her paint classes more intimate and personal. Obviously the goal is for people to enjoy themselves and learn new skills. Smaller class sizes make those things easier to do.
“I am very observant as to what appeals to people at the present time and draw from that factor,” states Szpaicher.
Rebecca regularly hosts Canvas-N-Cocktails workshops locally in Ellicottville, Great Valley, Salamanca, Little Valley, Springville and Gowanda, and will be adding classes in the Bemus Point area throughout June, July and August at the Ellicottville Brewing Company-Chautauqua and the Hadley House. Search for Canvas-N-Cocktails on Facebook for a full schedule of classes, or call 716-560-7489 for more information. You can also find information about her classes at holidayvalley.com and ellicottvilleny.com.
According to Rebecca, the most rewarding thing about her experience with Canvas-N-Cocktails is “starting with twenty blank canvases and in less than two hours witnessing twenty masterpieces …. all different.”
And to those who think they don’t have an ounce of artistic ability in them, Rebecca encourages them to come give one of her classes a try. In her experience, people often surprise themselves. She also offers these words of encouragement, which she states is the best advice regarding art she has ever received: “Never apologize for your art!”