‘The vibes are just on point’: East Dubuque business mixes painting, cannabis

The Stoned Painter

Location: East Dubuque, Ill.

Offerings: Cannabis-friendly painting classes

Contact: 563-281-4744 or thestonedpainter@gmail.com

Online: thestonedpainter.com or “The Stoned Painter” on Facebook

EAST DUBUQUE, Ill. — Standing inside her East Dubuque studio, Maria Cigrand distributed brushes and paint to four people, then began leading them through the process of painting the image of a moon onto a blank canvas.

”We’re going to start by painting the background black, from top to bottom,” she said. “Try to keep the paint thin, so it dries faster.”

Racheal Reynolds and her boyfriend, Eddie Klein, both of Lancaster, Wis., covered their canvases in black paint.

The pair are regular participants in Cigrand’s classes at her business, The Stoned Painter. The business, which opened last year, offers “cannabis-infused art classes,” allowing customers of legal age to use cannabis products while participating in a guided painting class.

Classes take place in The Stoned Painter’s studio, a small building with walls adorned with tapestries, completed paintings and strands of lights. Calming music often plays in the background as Cigrand leads a class.

“The vibes are just on point,” said Reynolds. “It’s very chill and relaxed.”

Since The Stoned Painter opened in January 2023, it has served over 1,200 customers, according to Cigrand.

“It’s an activity that is different from what we have available in the community,” she said. “If you have a date night, a ladies’ night, it’s a good alternative … that gives people a chance to explore their creative side.”

Cigrand earned an associate degree in graphic arts from Northeast Iowa Community College and has a background in graphic design and digital art.

She launched The Stoned Painter to follow her passion for art and to destigmatize cannabis by introducing customers to its creative benefits. Similar businesses have found success in states like California and Colorado, she said, and she believed there was a market for the activity in the tri-states.

Interested groups of up to 12 people can book a 90-minute session at the business for $40 per person, which includes canvases, paints and supplies, snacks, water and a guided painting experience led by Cigrand.

The business does not sell cannabis for attendees. Instead, painters must bring their own cannabis if they are interested in consuming or smoking it while painting. Any use of cannabis during the class is optional, Cigrand said, but all painters must be 21 or older to join a class.

She noted that The Stoned Painter has partnerships with local cannabis dispensaries Verilife in Galena and The Dispensary in East Dubuque and can offer discounts at those businesses for customers of The Stoned Painter.

”(The business model) goes along with destigmatizing cannabis and trying to shift people’s mindset on it a little bit,” Cigrand said. “There’s so many benefits from smoking (or) consuming cannabis and also from using art as an outlet, therapeutic benefits like reducing anxiety.”

Those who book a class can choose from a variety of different paintings, with current offerings ranging from a fox in a snowy forest to a mountainous landscape. Each participant then paints that image on the person’s own canvas, with Cigrand offering step-by-step instructions.

“They’re all very beginner paintings,” she said. “I know a lot of them look complex, and sometimes people get scared to book because of that, but they’re all not difficult to paint. I like to teach techniques that are simple.”

Reynolds said she appreciates Cigrand’s hands-on teaching style during the classes.

”She’s really good about helping when you get stuck, and she’ll ask, ‘Do you want me to touch your painting, or do you want me to walk you through how to do it?’” Reynolds said.

Cigrand enjoys getting to know her customers, ranging from regular attendees like Reynolds and Klein to first-time painters.

“We have young 21-year old groups and then we’ve had an 87-year-old, and it’s so much fun just seeing them be comfortable in this environment with no judgment, able to explore their creativity,” she said. “I love seeing the joy on their faces when they are surprised by what they painted.”

Cigrand hopes to expand the business into the Chicago market by the end of the year and has future aspirations of teaming up with a licensed therapist to offer cannabis-assisted therapy. They also plan to open an Airbnb on the property this spring, called Annie’s Bud and Breakfast.

”We see it all the time where people book a class and then they want to go find an Airbnb or a hotel, so we know these things go hand in hand,” she said. “We see people from all over for these classes: we’ve had people from Iowa City (Iowa), Waterloo (Iowa) and the Wisconsin Dells (Wis.). People are really interested in this.”