Small Business

Teaching art is a second career for this retired corporate pilot

Alan and Tanya Brooks started Art Towne in Mulvane earlier this year.
Alan and Tanya Brooks started Art Towne in Mulvane earlier this year. Courtesy photo

Alan Brooks believes most people harbor a creative urge they’re anxious to indulge.

“But they’re intimidated and afraid to do it themselves,” he said. “If they can go and be led in a class, they feel better about it.”

That’s the thinking behind Art Towne, which Brooks and his wife, Tanya, opened in Mulvane earlier this year. Art Towne offers people the chance to create paintings, ceramics and other art work in a couple of hours, with a little help from Alan Brooks and another teacher.

It’s a second career for Brooks, who spent 25 years as a corporate pilot.

“The art is all self-taught,” he said. “It’s just a God-given talent.”

Even before he retired from flying, Brooks said he often got requests from people to paint likenesses of their boats or planes. “I would take the work with me while I was traveling.”

In one weird coincidence, an Andover resident asked him to paint a sailboat he’d already sketched while on a business trip in Naples, Fla.

Brooks fulfilled requests portraits of pets and children and murals to decorate homes and churches. Someone asked him to teach a children’s painting class, “which led to another one and another one and another one,” he said. Then he started teaching adult classes.

“He just thought this is something I’m really enjoying,” said Tanya Brooks, who’s a physician’s assistant in addition to helping with Art Towne.

The couple found an older home just off Main Street in Mulvane to base Art Towne in, although Brooks continues to do off-site events as well.

“Mulvane’s actually an interesting kind of hub,” Tanya Brooks said. “It draws people from Haysville and Derby. It’s kind of devoid of this type of business.”

Art Towne offers some regular classes but much of the business is driven by groups who rent it for kids birthday parties, adult wine-and-art parties and other events. Painting in oil, acrylic and watercolor, pencil drawing, basket weaving and rock painting are some of the skills Brooks teaches.

Alan Brook said he tries to lead classes “in a manner that allows the average person with very little artistic talent or experience to complete a painting. Sometimes I might draw a few things on the canvas for them. Although I do stress it is their painting and they can do whatever they want.”

Added Tanya: “His passion is to serve the community and to let people know that everybody is an artist.”

Since the home where Art Towne is located features a large deck and lawn, Tanya Brooks said they’ll probably offer outdoor classes in such subjects as furniture chalk painting in the future, in addition to more indoor pursuits like jewelry making and cake decorating.

Alan Brooks said the couple’s daughter, Josie, came up with their motto.

“Essentially, she said if it’s art and it’s fun, we’re going to do it. That’s our plan.”

ART TOWNE

Phone: 316-779-8559

Address: 122 N. 1st Ave., Mulvane

Owners: Alan and Tanya Brooks

Website: arttowne.com

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