Teri Magner continues her teaching career with ‘Wine and Painting Wednesdays’ in Amherst

Last modified: Tuesday, November 24, 2015
AMHERST — Placing the paint-covered rim of the glass against her canvas, Kyle Boyd begins forming the numerous rings that will help her recreate “Squares with Concentric Circles,” an abstract painting by famed Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky.

In her first attempt at an artistic endeavor since high school, Boyd said she was enjoying an evening filled with fond memories of grade school art classes taught by Teri Magner, who, not coincidentally, also happens to be the instructor this evening.

“She’s teaching very similar to how she taught in elementary school,” Boyd observed on a Wednesday evening in late October.

Boyd was accompanied to the class at Bread and Butter restaurant in North Amherst by her mother, Roxanne Boyd.

“As a parent, I was never able to do the great things I saw Kyle do in elementary school. This gives me the opportunity to do that,” Roxanne Boyd said.

This marked the 70th wine-and-painting class presented by Magner, who, after retiring from a 37-year-teaching career in Amherst schools developed the business she calls #artcontinues.

Acknowledging the popularity of similar classes in which participants produce art while drinking wine, Magner said she is doing something different by placing less emphasis on the alcohol.

“I want to make the distinction clear,” Magner said. “It’s a lot of fun, and that sip of wine does a lot for people when they haven’t painted since elementary school.”

Magner said her enterprise, though, is primarily about the art. “I developed a clientele who liked it and the difference from a bar scene experience,” Magner said.

Magner, 61, began teaching “Wine and Painting Wednesdays” at the former artALIVE in downtown Amherst, but when it closed in late summer she needed to find another site. Bread and Butter owner Brian Knox offered to accommodate her classes at his restaurant, which normally closes at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, and created a menu of small-plate foods available to participants, as well as serving coffee and tea. Because Bread and Butter does not have an alcohol license, people in the class have to bring their own bottles of wine or beer to drink.

The classes are held from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Magner sees the site in the Mill District as a perfect location, where eventually she hopes more will be done to support the arts.

“I spend hours choosing paintings I believe are doable in the 2½ hours and are doable for the layperson, whether or not they have painted since second grade or seventh grade,” Magner said. “There’s a lot to be said for copying and learning from the masters.”

Art history

During the course of the evening, Magner discusses art history and anecdotes about the artists, making it a lesson in art. That evening, she talked extensively about Kandinsky, the Russian painter and art theorist who is regarded as a leader of the abstract art movement in the early 20th century.

“He’s known as the father of abstract art because he was the first one to give up anything representational in his painting,” Magner said.

“He just had a whole different way of thinking about art,” she said. “He’s someone who said he could hear colors.”

Magner is assisted by Susan Crutch, who co-teaches the classes.

Magner has developed shortcuts and techniques to get amateur artists through the process quickly, including the method of using circular objects to create circles, rather than drawing them free-hand.

She provides all the supplies, including the easel, apron, pallet, basket of paints, series of five brushes and pallet knife for mixing tints and shades of colors. Each participant has a choice of painting on canvas, tote bags or pillow covers.

Though many who come to wine and painting events are not professionals, some are. Caroline Martin of South Hadley teaches art to elementary school students in Enfield, Connecticut, and enjoys how Magner approaches the class.

“There’s authenticity to this,” Martin said. “You could answer a Jeopardy! question after a night here.”

She added that the best part is not having to prepare her own lesson plan.

“It’s a chance to have everything set out in front of me and let my mind escape the artist,” Martin said.

Martin said she would bring back the art to show her children at home, and her students in class, that even as a trained artist she is constantly learning about the process.

In fact, Magner points to the craze of Zen doodling for adults, and the benefits of coloring. “It’s all about presenting art to people and using that part of their brain,” Magner added. “If you paint you can come and have a good time going to it”

Her classes are usually held twice a month, but there will only be one in November and December. They are Wednesday , when Vincent van Gogh’s “Mulberry Tree” will be taught, and Dec. 9, with Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Red Poppy” as the subject. A regular schedule of classes on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month resumes in January. Each class costs $30 to paint on canvas, and more for the tote bags or pillow cases.

Magner said she hopes to eventually add more programs to her business, including so-called “wine-and-line” events that show participants how to complete drawings. “I’m very excited about starting that,” Magner said.

Magner said though she is now running a business, there is not much difference in the pleasure she has in observing the joy and accomplishment of others at the end of each session.

“They go home with a piece they can display and talk about,” Magner said. “My joy is seeing them take pictures on their phones and posting it on Facebook and telling everyone.”

“I still get that indelible thrill out of seeing people do something and be happy about it,” Magner said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.