By Donn Swaby







For anyone who’s ever had the urge to awaken and explore the creatively expressive painter lying dormant within, Paint Lab is the place for you! Located on Main Street in Santa Monica, this new “art gym” offers anyone, regardless of experience level, a tranquil and fun place to paint, using all types of mediums and supplies, with a friendly and knowledgeable staff always present to provide professional assistance.

Oana Bogdan, a professional art director, came up with the concept for Paint Lab a few years ago when she was painting at home. “I just always thought, ’ Hey, it would be so great to paint away from the house and have a spot where you can just go when you have time in your schedule, without having to book a class,’” she said. “I’ve done the class thing where you have to show up six weeks in a row at six PM for three hours and I thought it would be nice to do something outside of my regular nine to five job and have a place where people can come and get creative. I’ve done extensive research to find if anybody else does this and didn’t find anything.”

Bogdan told her friend Melanie Cote, a locations manager in the film industry, about the plan and she jumped on board as a business partner. “She (Bogdan) has the formal background and it was very exciting to me to know that we could bring that to other people. “ “It was a little slow in the film business at the end of last year,” said Bogdan, “so it kind of gave me the space to focus on Paint Lab and find a location.” “We’ve been living it now for over two weeks,” adds Melanie, “and it’s fantastic to see how people react to it.”

Paint Lab provides the painter the paints (water color, oil, acrylic, gouache, and tempera), brushes, a choice of pre-made surfaces, a shelf of reference books, and unlimited help from a professional staff, all for $20, making it the perfect place for even more experienced painters to experiment with new mediums without spending an exorbitant amount of money. They also offer supplies for sale, two hour stand-alone-event workshops with specific instruction, after-school workshops for kids, private instruction, wall space to display artwork produced by both patrons and instructors for sale or exhibit, and two weekly social workshops: Watercolor n’ Wine Wednesdays (with an instructor) and Paint, Wine n‘ Cheese“ Fridays (vino and cheese is complimentary). Painters can stay as long as they want, come back as much as they want to finish a project, and can even leave their project there overnight. Paint Lab will even clean up after you!

As for the future, Bogdan is already envisioning more Paint Labs cropping up in L.A. “Hopefully we can build on that and make other space.“ she said. “I would love to actually have this kind of space available to people in low income places so those kids can go into art instead of other no-so-nice things. Every neighborhood needs one.”

Paint Lab

2912 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Tel: 310-450-9200
For a calendar of future events and any other info on Paint Lab,

please go to


For Advertising info on What's Cool ~LA page click here


© Melt Magazine 2009