Laura Ellis has a room upstairs in her new business specifically for people to let off a little artistic steam.

The room is part of Albany Art Studio, at 131 Montgomery St. NE — the old brick building that once housed the Albany Iron Works, for scholars of Albany history. Ellis has a couple of special events scheduled in it for New Year's Eve and will open the whole shop for regular business hours in January.

The upstairs room is the "Splatter Box," and it's designed for — well, it's really not for designs, or at least not ones planned in advance.

The 33-year-old North Albany resident's dream is to line the entire 1,000-square-foot space with drywall or a similar brick-protective substance, then let people hang canvases, T-shirts, posterboard; whatever they might want to use to contain their creations.

Next, they'll stand back and let the paint fly: by the brushload. By the handfuls. By the bucket. Artist's choice.

"Just get messy," Ellis said.

Ellis will open the Splatter Box for a New Year's Eve party for two different age groups. Tickets are limited and can be bought at the door or online via the business website, www.albanyartstudio.com (look for the NYE Splatter Party link).

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31, the under-21 set can come splatter, with all canvases and materials provided at a cost of $20 per person.

Those older than 21 can come and splatter from 7 p.m. through midnight, and the $50 per person entry fee (or $75 for couples) buys both materials and beverages from Deluxe Brewery.

Ellis envisions the Splatter Box being open for birthday parties, date nights, art therapy sessions or anytime someone feels like slinging some acrylics around.

The room is far from the studio's only offering, however. The open, brick-walled downstairs is empty thus far, but Ellis can picture how she plans to fill it.

She'll stock one section with canvases, pencils, brushes, watercolors, charcoal and more — "Anything a person might need to create," she said. (Donations of any type of art supply are always welcome, she added.)

Another space will be a gallery for local artists to display their work. Classes will be offered throughout: Ellis has talked with instructors who'd like to demonstrate everything from floral arrangements to plein air to photography.

In addition to the Splatter Box, the upstairs will house an open studio where artists can come and work on any project they wish, Ellis said (no oil paints, she added, because of the 150-year-old building's ventilation system).

She envisions using that spot for her own work, too: As the mother of children ages 6 and 3, she's often looking for extra space and time to spread her creative wings.

Ellis and her husband, Derek, own Quality Painting of Oregon. But this business is all Ellis' own, a dream since minoring in art at Oregon State University.

"I've always wanted to teach classes," she said. "I've done a little, but nothing permanent." 

Albany Art Studio will provide the room for those classes, she said, but equally important, it will give artists space for their own visions.

Research indicates art affects every part of a person, from memory to cognitive ability to math skills to eye-hand coordination, Ellis said. She sees providing a place to create as a community service for all ages.

Art, she said, "shapes your whole brain." 

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