As if being in quarantine during the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, in 2020 Mesa artist Sladjana Ahmetovic tore ligaments in his foot. Stuck at home, unable even to drive, she found relaxation and pleasure in painting while consuming cannabis.
“My friends started coming because I couldn’t go to them,” says Ahmetovic. “They came to visit me and my dining room slowly became too crowded. So when my foot got better, I decided to try and rent a space and invite like-minded people. same ideas to live the same experience.”
The result is Pretty Dope Paintings, her company that offers art classes inspired by the popular wine and paint format.
Classes, which take place on the second Saturday of the month, are open to people aged 21 and over. For approximately three hours, attendees will receive guided instructions on how to make a piece of art while smoking pot. Food trucks and other vendors are on site. There are usually around 20 people in the class, and everyone brings their own cannabis.
All skill levels are welcome, says Ahmetovic.
“You don’t have to be a professional artist to be part of the class, so most of the time [the paintings are] things that can be easily captured, things like landscapes, things that include shapes and such, things that can be easily reproduced. So we hang out, we talk, we paint, we laugh, and of course, we also smoke during class.”
Ahmetovic says a little weed can help get the artistic juices flowing.
“Sometimes people get a little nervous, wondering what’s going to happen, because a lot of them haven’t touched a brush in a long time, or maybe ever. And then in the end, they’re pretty proud of themselves, because many of them wouldn’t think they could do something like this with their own hands.
“There are a lot of parts during class where it gets a little quiet. The soothing part of the cannabis kind of lets you focus on the task at hand. “It’s actually a very calming event. A lot of people call it therapeutic because people focus on painting.”
Puff and Paint parties aren’t the only services offered by Ahmetovic. Through her mobile art studio, she organizes art classes for children, private parties (with or without cannabis), public events and festivals.
When she attends public events, she doesn’t always hear positive feedback about her cannabis-inspired classes.
“At vendor events where I talk about it, I’ve had people comment. I’ll be doing live art, and in the meantime, people who pass by, I’ll tell them about my classes and I’ll maybe give them a flyer, and I’ve certainly had people who were [anti-cannabis] start conversations about how they feel.
“A lot of people seem to think that people who use cannabis are lazy, that laziness comes with that. So for me, it was important for me to show other benefits that you can get from cannabis.”
For Ahmetovic, one of the benefits of cannabis (and by extension, Pretty Dope Paintings) is how it connects her to others.
“My goal was to bring like-minded people together,” she says. “So it doesn’t matter where we come from, what we have to do after this or what we did before this. During these three hours, we are all there for the same purpose, enjoying the same things. … I love what I’ve been able to create, and the people who participate really help me to continue on this path. I’m so grateful.
The next Pretty Dope Paintings class will be from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 at 1817 South Horne, #1, Mesa. The cost is $35. Visit prettydopepaintings.com or find the company on Facebook and Instagram.