Visit Wisconsin

By Jennifer Billock

Do you like to paint? What about drink, do you like to drink? If so, then you should definitely combine the two and head out to Splash Studio in the Third Ward. Splash’s innovative concept joins an art studio and a bar in one raucous combination that will leave you with both a sense of painted accomplishment, and a bit of a tipsy buzz.

A night out with friends

Here’s how it works. Get on their website,, and comb the calendar listings for a painting you’d like to do. Register with a credit card to reserve your space. Then head to the bar at your designated time. You’ll pay the $33 per person (on weekends, weekdays are $28 per person), don a sassy painting smock (complete with fashionable smock pockets – or smockets as I like to call them), and pump your required amount of paint onto a paper plate. A chalkboard at the paint station tells you how many pumps you need. Then grab a drink at the bar (PBR for you hipsters, mimosas for the ladies – or any other number of drinks available) and claim your canvas. A painting teacher will come in and show you the steps to creating your perfect picture. You’ll get three breaks so your paint can dry. Then the painting is yours to take home and nail to the fridge next to your toddler’s art project.


Our painting was titled “Good Morning Museum,” a tribute to the Milwaukee Art Museum at sunrise, and our painting instructor was Dena Nord.

You can also come in without reserving anything in advance, pick up a mini canvas for a few bucks, and sit at the bar and paint whatever your heart desires with whatever motivation a steady flow of alcohol gives you. Or you could just play Mario. At the end of the bar, a Nintendo hookup lets anyone grab a controller and play. While we were there, somebody beat the game without dying once – he got free drinks. And no, it wasn’t me. I’m terrible at Mario – that’s why I always choose Luigi, the lesser Mario Brother.

Probably the best thing about Splash is how vastly different every painting ends up. You can either stay along with the teacher or go your own route, but either way, every single canvas carries the personal style and brand of the artist. And, trust me on this, you have to get up and look at other paintings during the break. For one, you’ll be completely compelled to gauge your progress and skill against others’ paintings, and for two, the variations are incredible and oftentimes, hilarious. A guy on the other side of the room from us painted his city behind the museum with flames shooting out the window and fire engines below. Across the canvas row between us, one girl painted her picture entirely in shades of black and grey. The effect was stunning.

So maybe my “straight” line squiggles a bit in my painting of the Milwaukee Art Museum. I could try to blame it on the painting teacher, but let’s be honest. That’s the result of a mojito at the Milwaukee Ale House for dinner and three mimosas into the painting session. It may not be the best painting (clearly!), but I’ll always love it because that canvas is covered with the product of a great time out with friends.  (Reprinted from

Plan your visit:
Splash Studio
184 N. Broadway

8-Bit Day


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