When a child picks up a box of crayons or a paintbrush, chances are they aren’t going to care whether or not they create a masterpiece.
The older we get, the more we start to care about such things – and, more often than not, the less we take to expressing ourselves creatively.
In its own way, Puff, Pass & Paint is helping adults return to that child-like sense of unbridled creative freedom – by handing them a joint.
Billed as the “first-ever cannabis-friendly all-inclusive art class”, Puff, Pass & Paint became an overnight success when artist Heidi Keyes hosted the first class out of her Denver home studio in 2014.
“I was working as a painter, teaching some classes, and one of my friends jokingly said, ‘Hey, you know those [canvas and cocktail] classes? You should do that with weed.’ I laughed and said: ‘I don’t think anybody else would like that besides me.’ She said: ‘You might be surprised’,” recalls Keyes.
Her friend was right. After advertising a BYOC cannabis-friendly painting class on Facebook, Keyes said the idea “immediately blew up.”
“I had people I didn’t even know trying to book classes and all the ones I’d started with were sold out. We had to find a larger studio and start doing more regular classes because they were doing so well.”
Three years later, Puff, Pass & Paint courses are being offered in Denver, Portland, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Sacramento and Oakland – with plans to expand into Boston. At each class, up to 20 students are invited to join a “casual and creative two-hour smoking session”, wherein they can follow along with instructors’ step-by-step instructions or create their own “mind-altered masterpiece.”
That said, attending a Puff, Pass & Paint class isn’t about creating “the perfect piece of art” – something Keyes works hard to instil in her students; she believes it’s part of what makes the classes so popular among people of all ages and skill levels.
“Some people come into the classes and say they haven’t painted since kindergarten – or ever – and they’re worried about messing it up. I always tell them it’s not about that, that it’s about being creative and celebrating legal cannabis and having fun,” said Keyes.
“When you were a little kid, you weren’t worried about drawing a picture and it being a bad picture. You were involved in the process; you were having fun."
“I think cannabis relaxes you to a state where you can actually enjoy being creative again, and that’s a really important thing.”
In its own way, Puff, Pass & Paint helps to de-stigmatize cannabis use, added Keyes.
“People are coming from all over the country and the world to celebrate legal cannabis. A lot of times they’re smoking legally for the first time in their lives [in these classes],” she said. “It’s really exciting to share that with them because it really does show that the landscape of cannabis and how people view it and respond to it is changing.”