A decade ago, local do-it-yourselfers would drive to the Shoemaker home studio in Clovis to learn to paint home decor and more.
“To find us, we told people to look for the three oaks,” recalled Vicki Shoemaker, who had worked for years as a painting contractor specializing in faux finishes. “That’s where the name came from.”
Shoemaker is the owner of 3 Oaks Studio in Old Town Clovis and its newest location in Fresno. The store carries Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan, which comes in 33 colors. The paint is water based, VOC-free and has no odor, Shoemaker said.
“You can use it thick, thin, as a wash. In all my years of working with paint, I took one brush stroke with this paint and said, ‘Sign me up,’” she said. “I was No. 7 in the country to carry it and first in California, about 7 years ago.”
The Shoemakers sold Annie Sloan paint and hosted tutorials in their home studio.
“I wanted people to be able to experience the joy of creativity for themselves rather than paying other people to do it,” Shoemaker said.
But the business quickly grew too big and too popular to remain on the family’s property.
“I would be floating in the pool and people would crawl over the gate to buy paint,” Shoemaker said.
She moved 3 Oaks Studio into four different locations in Clovis within a year before landing on the corner of 5th Street and Pollasky Avenue in Old Town in 2012. On April 1, 2015, Shoemaker opened a second location in Fresno, near Bullard and West avenues.
Painting is now a family affair.
After Vicki’s husband, Steve Shoemaker, retired from the military about 10 years ago, the couple moved home to the Fresno-Clovis area and opened the studio.
“He was Army special forces; his specialty was counterterrorism,” Shoemaker said. “In the store he’s known as the paint professor. When he works the shop he approaches creativity very differently, with an analytical point of view. He’ll put everything that you need for cleaning and prepping in one bag, everything for painting in another bag and everything you need for cleanup in another. And he’ll label it if they need it.”
Their daughter also carries Annie Sloan paint in her Portland paint store, The Color Shop.
Find peace through paint
Faux finish workshops and Paint Therapy classes are held at both locations. Instructors receive formal training at Annie Sloan headquarters in North Carolina, said Natalie Christiansen, manager of the Clovis location.
This isn’t a typical paint night or crafting class, Christiansen assured.
“The paint is unique. There’s nothing else like it,” she said. “Already we have that edge because you’re not going to find this paint at any other classes. You’re getting to paint everything from finished wood to metal, to glass, fabric. This stuff will stick to everything, so you’re going to get away with a lot more projects than you would a canvas.”
Depending on what you want to get out of the class, we have something for everybody,” she said. For those new to the product, there’s a Basics class.
“Basics kind of gives you an intro to everything,” Christiansen said. “We also show techniques so you’re not just learning how to hold a brush and paint with one color. We go over a two-color distress, we go over how to build texture with the paint, we go over blending colors, stenciling, and we introduce you to all the different waxes. You actually get a lot of information in that class.”
Patrons can also learn how to paint their own kitchen or bathroom cabinets; instructors will tailor the class to show participants how to get the specific look they’re going for, Christiansen said.
For those without a home project in mind, there’s Paint Therapy.
“We call it our party class,” Christiansen said. “We have a different project every month. We try to theme it with whatever is going on that month. You can bring a drink of choice and there’s always food. It’s a good time.”
Paint Therapy classes are open to 12 participants at the Clovis studio and 20 in the Fresno location. Technique classes are limited to 8 to 12 participants, so that each person gets more one-on-one attention from the instructor.
Other classes showcase the use of different Annie Sloan products as they become popular, Christiansen said.
“We are always throwing in new classes like milk paint, reactive paints; we have a lot of products so we bring them in when there’s a demand,” she said.
Annie Sloan, a well respected expert in paint colors and techniques, developed the paint 26 years ago, Shoemaker said. “She was looking for something versatile, easy to use and a very intuitive paint; anybody could be an artist with this.”
Her line of paint has grown to include nearly three-dozen Chalk Paint colors. Two more are expected to be release in October, Shoemaker said.
“We are known for our workshops and our paint,” Shoemaker said. “People find us. I believe in making sure that people have the right information when they leave our shop so that they can go home and have a good experience with their project.”
The variety of colors and finishes Annie Sloan offers makes it easy for homeowners and crafters to customize their decor, Shoemaker said.
“People can get a creative urge and pull something away from the wall and start painting it,” she said. She often does just that.
“We have a new modern masters metallic patina paint and we’re going a workshop on gold, silver and copper leaf gilding on a glass candle container,” Shoemaker said. “We started going around and rusting almost everything. I even rusted a mason jar.”
The Shoemakers are currently revamping the studio on their property to host specialty workshops that will included dinner on their vineyard, Shoemaker said. Those events are likely to begin in October.
“I love that people can come to a workshop and create something,” Shoemaker said. “It’s a like a little kid showing a picture to their mom — ‘Look what I made!’ I don’t care how old you get, you still have that in you.”
3 Oaks Studio
481 Pollasky Ave., Clovis
2017 W. Bullard Ave., Fresno
Visit www.3oaksstudio.com for class schedule.