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I think I had poisoned myself.

And it didn’t taste very good. Not very good at all.

See, I should have known better. We have a supreme water filter attached to the side of the sink, a much needed accessory since moving to Florida. Colorado? Ice cold mountain run-off fills the springs and aquifers and we have water that tastes like manna.

Then I moved to Florida.

After the third week of Not-Feeling-Well, the doctor asked simple question, “are you drinking the local water? You might want to stick to bottled or filtered until you are used to it.” So? The water filter system was born-and with it, the disgusting habit of mine of filling up several cups of water and leaving them by the side of the sink. It made it easier when the heat started to get to me and I would just lean over the open kitchen and grab a lukewarm cup of aqua and be good to go.

But today? Today was not too different, really.

See, I had done this before.

I’m married to an artist. And it is probably a horrible stereotype, but he paints much. I have

spots all over the walls, floor, garage, patio, the rug, you name it.

You learn to live with it.

And even, sometimes, the dog.

When it comes to painting, they have to clean their brushes. Now, I suppose there could be a dedicated cup to hold the stained brushes, but when you’re focused on a work, you are not probably thinking of other things. I get that way when I’m working on works and submissions. You start typing, take a sip of coffee, and it is as cold as a slurpee.  

Your focus is elsewhere.

So the husband must have dropped his paintbrushes in and pulled them back out.

And I took a lug of the filthy water.


Who knew painting could be so dangerous!

Needless to say, I lived.

I mean, hello, you’re reading this, aren’t you?

But it says something about how we live and die for our various creations, when you think about it. He was not trying to kill me, I was not trying to gag myself into oblivion. We love our creations so much, we are willing to focus on that more than anything.

I had another Plunge moment recently and it brought that back into focus.  I have a small writing group and, once a month, we try to do something new, different, or unique enough to get us out and about. Get the creative juices flowing. And, well, look here, it has inspired me to write. On this evening, we elected as a group to head over to a new addition to the Golden Triangle, where I live, to Mount Dora’s Painting With a Twist.

This is something I’ve seen many of my friends do across the country and figured it was a time to give it a go. Such businesses proliferate the Orlando proper, and maybe such a review might assist you in deciding this is something you might do.  It is aimed and geared

for adults, with alcohol included. However, during this visit, it was BYOB, as they just opened. Some locations have nights for teens sans libations or children, so please make sure you google-up a timetable before heading over. Most of these places publish a calendar with ‘classes,’ for lack of a better word, that give you an idea of what you’re going to paint, so you can decide on the image you’d like and working it into your schedule.  Ours featured a fuddled giraffe under a bottle, titled “Fully Inspired.” You don’t have to paint what is presented, but that is where the majority will go. All the paint, aprons, palettes, canvases, and brushes are provided for you upon arrival.

Without the hazards of a certain loved one trying to poison you with leftover paint mixed with aqua. I kinda liked that part.

Now it should be pointed out, the group is led by an artist, as opposed to, a teacher. Like a Disney World Skipper on the Jungle Cruise, your experience will vary greatly on this

person’s presentational aspects, their demeanor and mood, and their comfort level. Their focus is a bit different. Now, since most in their given class are adults, their need for detail is perhaps not as strong, but I found that, at times, the artist moved at their speed, as opposed to, the majority of the class. I also found her to be approachable and I’m sure if I had asked, she would have happily changed her exposition. I learned that some locations in Orlando will actually list, “beginner/intermediate/advanced” for potential students, but that was not the case here. And since we had advanced (my husband) and beginner (myself) I’m sure it was difficult to ply to the variance of a middle ground.

Was it fun? Truly, but more for the cahoots of my colleagues and family being nearby than the actual painting. There’s a reason art is such an integral part of a child’s development. I think, and believe strongly, that’s why coloring books have had such a surge in usage lately. We are inherently creative.  You’ve been on Journey Into Your Imagination. It’s part of our brain chemistry.

Yeah, I know, deep.

And even with the stencils and guidance, you can go off script whenever we pleased, which is cool, and I suppose, if someone is drinking, they might just do so.

Paint 3

Humorously, I had water. Sorry, we don’t drink. We’re exciting that way.

Plus I wanted a clear mind in case I had to write this article. I’m not Hemingway. I can’t drink heavily and then author. Just not a skill I have.

But painting is a skill I wish I did have. My Better Half just zinged along, where I found the cares of my day, the heat, and the noise, slowly drifting as I focused more and more on my easel and time before it. That’s a good thing.

It may seem like this review is a bit mixed, because, like everything, it is not like Disney and created for everyone to attend. This group activity does ply to a specific demographic . Think before paying; I think that a great many would enjoy it. What makes it better? Large groups that are comfortable with one another and don’t mind getting paint on themselves. I probably would not do this for date night.

Especially since I’m married to a painter. I’m sure he’d be, like, “um, I can do this at home.”

Strangely, I think he enjoyed himself. Sometimes it is nice to let someone else take the reins and just go with the flow. I think if children were present, the off-color “Happy Trees” (think the famed Bob Ross on PBS) might not have flown so freely. All the locks we put on ourselves would be maintained and no one would have relaxed enough to enjoy the sheer act of creating.

Give it a try.

As for my finished work? It will be proudly hung in the bathroom.

Paint 1


And don’t drink the water when you’re near a painter. Just something you should think about.

Interested in visiting Painting With a Twist Enter your zip code here to find their closest location and then share your work at Taking the Florida Plunge Facebook page! 

Joe Triggs-Smith Contributor Taking the Florida Plunge


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