Sara Squartsoff-McKinley

Paint Nights of Sara owner Sara Squartsoff-McKinley.

WASILLA — Paint Nights with Sara owner Sara Squartsoff-McKinley recently participated in a question and answer interview discussing her passion for art, teaching, and creativity as a whole.

Q: How long have you been making art in general?“I’ve always done art. Since we were younger, my grandpa was an artist. I’ve been teaching paint nights for over eight years now. I’ve had a studio for three. I’ve been at this new location for just over a year and half. My background’s elementary education with a minor in art. So, teaching and art have always been my passion.”

Q: Growing up, what mediums did you gravitate to the most?“Watercolor and acrylics were my main mediums, and being from Kodiak Island growing up, it reflected a lot of my upbringing growing around the ocean and very Alaskan type original artwork.”

Q: What mediums do you usually work with now?“Still both. Watercolor is something where I can just open up the pallet and eke right away without having a lot of mess, but I still love acrylic too. It’s just whatever I’m in the mood for.”

Q: How often are you able to make time for your personal art projects?“I don’t really,” she said with a laugh. “But I love my job and I’m always creating. I create new designs for classes so that’s kind of its own thing. We do virtual classes for homeschool and we do virtual private parties and things like that so my schedule’s pretty packed… Now we have our art subscription boxes which are a big thing… That way people can have art experiences delivered straight to their door.”

Q: What about art is so important to you that you decided to dedicate your life to it?

“I know creating is just a very basic need as humans… It’s very satisfying creating stuff with your hands… It’s just really fulfilling. It’s really nice too when you teach classes and people say, ‘I never paint’ or ‘I’m not artistic’ that they get to enjoy creating something in that two hour time period and just seeing that joy ferment and that they had a satisfaction. It’s just a natural thing for us humans to do, is to create. It doesn’t matter what medium you are doing. For us to be able to provide an opportunity for people to create is just amazing to me.”

Q: What are your plans for the future?“It’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have a pretty good vision of where we want the company to go… We really are hoping to be opening an Anchorage location in the next couple years, as well as maybe starting to branch off to some out of state locations… Just because it’s something fun to do. We’re art and entertainment. We’re not like, the fine art institute. You get to come in for a two hour class and create… There’s always something new.”

Q: You probably can’t see yourself doing anything else now, right?“No. This definitely feels like what I’m supposed to be doing. When all the roads lead you to this spot… When we do birthday parties or kid classes, just the excitement for new artists and seeing that light switch on, that they can do this is really fun and fulfilling for us too… That could possibly change their lives, you never know… It’s a fun job.”

Paint Nights with Sara is located at 2060 East Foundry Way in downtown Wasilla. For more information, call 907-521-4094 or visit paintwithsara.com

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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