Denver artist Heidi Keyes will help you get creative at her 420-friendly Puff, Pass and Paint two-hour classes. Seen here is "Alternate Route," a multimedia work by Keyes with acrylic on glass and wood panel. (Courtesy of Heidi Keyes)

Puff, Pass & Paint: crafting with a twist

Working artist Heidi Keyes has a bachelor’s degree in studio art and has been making a living on exhibiting and commission works for the last few years. So when she and a friend were joking about co-opting the popular “canvas-and-cocktails” idea for the marijuana crowd, she jumped on it.

Heidi Keyes exhibition
Artist Heidi Keyes: “I was a painter and creating art before I moved to Denver and before I was partaking in marijuana, so it’s not the cause of it. But it is something that at times helps me reach into my work.” (Courtesy of Heidi Keyes)

“I looked into it, and as long as you’re not selling (pot) and you’re in a private residence, you’re fine — and I have an art studio in my home,” said Keyes. “Once I found out it’s legal to move forward with it, I created a Facebook page and planned a couple classes and they filled up right away. I knew right there that this is something people are interested in.”

And so Puff, Pass & Paint was born. Keyes will teach small classes of six people in her private home studio as joints are passed around. People can bring their own pot, but she’ll also provide a couple joints and perhaps some edibles. The $40 class will last two hours. And even though her first two classes (Feb. 7 and 15) are sold out, she’s already planning on announcing more soon.

We caught up with Keyes to talk about art, business and marijuana’s ever-curious impact on the intersection of art and business.

So you’ll have small classes, which is pretty different than much of the canvas-and-cocktails world.

Yeah, my home studio is only so big. So it’s limiting, but it’s also exciting and a lot of fun.

Your two-hour class costs $40: What does that include?

It includes all of the art supplies, including a small canvas, paints, brushes and everything you need to create a piece of art. The people who are coming to something like this likely don’t have the supplies they need.

What about the weed?

We’re not selling any marijuana here, but there will be some complimentary weed – probably in terms of some joints. I’m thinking about making some edibles myself that are complimentary to take home, but that’s not quite certain. But people can feel free to bring their own, too.

Do you partake? If so, will you during the class?

I do partake. I’m not sure how that’s going to be in the classes because I don’t want to get so stoned that I can’t teach. So we’re going to go with the flow and see how it happens.

Does cannabis inform your art whatsoever?

It encourages creativity, but I was a painter and creating art before I moved to Denver and before I was partaking in marijuana, so it’s not the cause of it. But it is something that at times helps me reach into my work.

As other entrepreneurs are cashing in on Colorado’s green rush, we’re seeing some exorbitant prices being charged for tours and other 420-friendly endeavors for locals and tourists. And yet you’re only charging $40 for two hours, which seems pretty reasonable?

I want these classes to be something where everyone can do them. Not everyone can pay $300 for a three-hour tour, but I want people to be able to do this – and if it was $100 maybe they couldn’t afford it. I want them to feel comfortable and creative and have a good time, and if they have a good time then maybe they can afford to come back.

Now you recently spoke with your lawyer to make sure these classes would be legal. What was that like?

He went through al of the steps with me. He said, “If you want this to be a legitimate business,” which I do, “here’s what you need to do: Call the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division and tell them about what you’re doing.” He’s just been helping me cover all my bases in making sure I’m doing everything the right way.

And what did the enforcement division have to say about your small classes?

This isn’t huge yet, simply because the classes I’m holding are so small. It’s no more than a gathering of a group of friends getting together. At this time, it’s very small, so it’s not a big deal.

How many people have you heard from inquiring about future classes?

I’ve heard from around 20 people asking, “When are the next classes?” and “I have a group of people — can I schedule a private class with you?”

And does all this interest surprise you?

It actually really does surprise me. This time in Colorado is so exciting because history is being made here. I feel like there’s such an excitement the past few months, but especially since the shops opened on the 1st. There are so many small businesses that are centered around marijuana now. I was shocked at the response that I got. At first I was thinking of it as a joke, but then I sent some things to some friends and posted it on Facebook and there was such a huge reaction that I knew I had to do it.

"Snapshot," a multimedia artwork by Heidi Keyes
“Snapshot” by artist Heidi Keyes is acrylic on glass and wood panel (Courtesy of Heidi Keyes)

And how will this experience affect your art?

It’s only going to help my art. In my art I like to use different materials and experiment a lot. This will help. It’s also another venue, and it’s not as serious and being a working artist. It’ll be a lot of fun and give me the opportunity to meet new people from all over. The first class has four people from Wisconsin, friends of a friend who were excited about doing something like this while they’re vacationing in Colorado.

And because we are still in January, I have to ask: Have you purchased any recreational product yet, and if you have, what was it and was it any good?

I have not bought yet, but my boyfriend went yesterday and brought some back, and we enjoyed it last night. It was wonderful – Godberry 5.