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Chalk Art Fun - Local gallery and gift shop offers artistic classes

March 26, 2015
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The Salty Dog Gallery and Gifts shop toward the north end of the island has always been a fun place to visit, perusing the unique and interesting items available for purchase. But now you can explore your creative side there, as well. For the last several months, owner Carla Pine has been offering chalk paint art classes from her 1901 Estero Blvd. location, and the number of reservations continues to grow.

"Chalk paint has been around for several years and continues to grow in popularity," Carla said. "We are a nation of Do-It-Yourselfers everyone watches HGTV and wants to try new and different things. Chalk paint allows you to explore your artistic talent (or lack thereof), using your vivid imagination, and the simplicity of the paint allows everyone to have great success."

Carla explains the functionality and ease of chalk paint. "The nicest feature of chalk paint is you don't have to sand or prime anything. You can paint any surface or fabric. You can do it at home without being concerned of fumes, like most other paints. There's no odor and it washes out with water. We've been exploring the world of chalk paint and have been having so much fun with it."

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Stop by and have fun during the next Salty Dog chalk paint class, scheduled for Thursday, April 2. Above, recent students finish up their customized picture frames: Jan Boerman, Toni Angle, Polly Hensley, Toni Karrick, Barb Young-Miller, Carol Lindquist, Christy Hennessey, and instructor Carla Pine. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

The instructor and gift shop owner tries to offer these classes at least twice a week, catering around her students' schedules so all can be involved. "I will work with people to meet their needs. We also offer classes to interested groups at their clubhouse or meeting room," Carla said.

All experience levels are welcome, and even the newest of beginners will have fun turning an old, outdated item (such as a picture frame or gift box) into an updated shabby chic piece of artwork that's perfect as a personalized gift or vibrant addition to your home accents.

"If you have never held a paint brush, you will feel comfortable learning how to chalk paint. If you are familiar with chalk paint, you will pick up new ideas, techniques and tricks along the way."

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Not sure what you'd want to paint??Look around your home and see if there's anything you're just sick of staring at. Or stop by a local thrift shop or yard sale.

"Students can bring in something small that they are excited to paint, but I do provide a very ugly wood photo frame that they can update," Carla said. "I purposely choose ugly frames so we can see just how beautiful they will be with just a little paint and wax. We want to begin with a small item so students enter into a nice comfort level for their next piece."

During the Salty Dog paint classes, everything is provided: the brushes, the frames, even the paint. "Everything you'd need is provided. Each student gets to pick out a jar of their favorite color of chalk paint from the selection of 50 or more colors, along with their favorite color of wax," Carla explained. "I also provide paint brushes. All you need to bring is the fun!"

Classes go for about two hours or a little longer, are $55 per person, and reservations are highly requested, as space fills up fairly quickly.

Frequent Salty Dog art class student Christy Hennessey often stops by for new lessons and craft projects, and enjoys it so much, she sometimes assists Carla with teaching the beginners. "It's just so fun to come and play," she said.

Seasonal resident Jan Boerman is sure to get in as many classes with Carla as she can before heading north for the summer. "I'm glad I found out about the classes when I did before going back home next week," she said, as she finishes up a lovely graduated green photo frame.

To reserve your spot for the next class, which is scheduled for Thursday, April 2, at 8 a.m., call the Salty Dog Gallery and Gifts, 239-463-9900 or visit/Like/Sign Up on Carla's Facebook page. Just visit, search for "Carla's Color Club." Once traffic eases up as season winds down, Carla plans to offer evening classes, as well.

"We have such a ball the classes are so fun, and you'd be amazed what you can do with a piece of junk and some chalk paint. Stop by and see what you can do!"

About the Salty Dog Gallery and Gifts

The Salty Dog is all about custom, offering unique, often one-of-a-kind pieces that are created upon the request of the customer.

"We do so many fun things! We are still all about custom. We do request for custom-painted furniture and signs," Carla explained. "We can custom paint an art piece on furniture or just a custom chalk-painted piece. We offer in-home painting to paint your kitchen or bathroom cabinets, and also offer interior design consultations. We also carry the incredible rug line Company C, as well as the colorful Jelly Bean rugs."

The longtime beach business owner said she's changed their product mix intensely over the years, but is sure to focus on quality. "We also carry a few items for our pets on the island, and feature art by many of our local artists," she said. "We strive to sell products made in the USA, are always evolving and trying to stay one step ahead of the wants and needs of our shoppers."

Brady, Carla's sweet little pooch, is the mascot of the shop, and greets everyone with a friendly bark. "As always, Brady is in charge!" Carla laughed.

Salty Dog Gallery and Gifts is in the shopping plaza with Beach Pet Grooming and Fun Rentals. For more information, call 239-463-9900 or visit



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