Lady Business: Heidi Keyes of Puff Pass and Paint

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Heidi Keyes of Puff Pass and Paint is an ebullient, welcoming and talented artist in her own right. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Carthage College in Wisconsin and since 2014, has been on everything from international media to Colorado Public Radio. When out at cannabis movement or industry events, it’s easy to spot Heidi as she has an electric smile, an aura of kindness and a fun as well as hearty, life-celebratory laugh. As such, she makes the perfect BFF-type to host a cannabis and creativity events. In addition to teaching classes, she also contributes her time to working with organizations that raise funds and support for the homeless and those struggling with PTSD. We are happy to feature Heidi in Lady Business and to know her as friend, artist and all-around lovely person.

Please join the Ladybud Show on Livestream Tuesday December 20 2016 from 12:30-1:30 PM MDT as we our honored guest Heidi will be interviewed by hosts Diane Fornbacher and Crystal Guess at SoHi Gallery in Denver.  – D. Fornbacher

LADYBUD MAGAZINE: How long have you been doing Puff Pass and Paint?

Heidi Keyes: I started Puff, Pass & Paint in January of 2014 as soon as recreational cannabis became legal in Colorado. It seems both like this happened yesterday and also that it has been much longer; so many things have changed! We’ve been going nearly 3 years now in Denver, expanded to Portland in 2015 and Washington, DC earlier this year, and have added Las Vegas, San Francisco, and other locations beginning January of 2017, which is really exciting!

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We also offer Puff, Pass & POTtery classes for building and glazing your own accessories, and Puff, Pass & Pincushion classes where you can create your own inspired needlepoint work. You can find the schedule and purchase your tickets at: puffpassandpaint.com. The cost is $49 and includes all artistic supplies you’ll need for your session, whether it’s painting, potting, or stitching. We also teamed up with local company Colorado Cannabis Tours in 2015, so that we can now offer cannabis cooking classes, infused dinners, tours, and smoke-friendly lodging in Denver and other cities.

LB: You’ve mentioned before that Puff Pass and Paint is a variation on the theme of the canvas and cocktail parties that are popular with those who drink — aside from being cannabis-friendly, how does the Puff Pass and Paint experience differ from canvas and cocktail parties according to those who attend your events?

Photo credit: Amarett Jan

HK: Personally, I believe that cannabis and art are an absolutely amazing combination, although you don’t need to consume to enjoy our classes. Cannabis allows people to kind of relax into painting and focus on enjoying the process instead of the end result. I think that the vibe we attempt to create here is a bit different, as well. PP&P teachers and I always encourage individuality and creativity instead of making a perfect painting, so that Puff, Pass & Paint is therapeutic and self-enlightening as well as fun. Those who come back repeatedly enjoy the light-hearted, welcoming, and open-minded atmosphere as well as the opportunity to do something artistic in a group setting — the joints and bowls being passed around don’t hurt either, I’m sure.

LB: Recently, I noticed at a Denver comedy event called ‘Uncalled Four’ that PPP offered prizes to contestants. Aside from that event, what other entertainment and industry events and companies have you recently contributed free classes?

HK: Yes, Sam and Jake of Uncalled Four are absolutely amazing. As much as we can, we try to get involved with people in cannabis and other local groups to promote local and national creativity, community involvement, and cannabis normalization. PP&P works closely with the awesome Denver dispensary L’Eagle — one of my favorites because their product is not only delicious, but organic and pesticide-free. In cahoots with Colorado Cannabis Tours, we’ve been able to offer comped classes, tours, and other events and collaboration to a number of different organizations and charities for raffles and events, including Sense of Security, Freedom Leaf, different NORML chapters, and different groups of veterans who are using cannabis for treatment of PTSD.

LB: Since Puff Pass and Paint debuted, you’ve been covered by VICE, The New York Times, CNN and other media; what has that been like for you as an artist and businesswoman?

HK: I’ve been incredibly blessed to get so much media coverage for something I absolutely love doing with every fiber of my being. I think (I hope!) that shows when I’m teaching classes or talking about Puff, Pass & Paint. The therapeutic power of both cannabis and art is something I firmly believe in, and can go on and on about. I really think that’s one of the main reasons we’ve been able to grow as a company — this is my passion, and I can’t imagine doing anything else except teaching Puff Pass and Paint and working in this industry. The opportunity to do it in so many different cities and with so many different people from around the country is both mind-blowing and refreshing, so it has been overwhelming but in the best possible way.

LB: The painting events are approximately two hours and though the events are cannabis friendly, most people bring their own cannabis, is that correct? Also, what can people expect the Puff Pass and Paint experience to include aside from a very talented host with a Bachelor degree in Studio Art, paint and cannabis vapors and smoke?

HK: Yes, classes are typically 2 hours, whether it’s painting, pottery, or stitching. Sessions are always cannabis-friendly and BYOC (Bring Your Own Cannabis). Some folks attending classes do not consume cannabis — which is fine, too! You can even bring wine or beer if you prefer, as some people want to join the painting party but can’t partake in the best part because of jobs and drug testing, unfortunately. Everyone attending a class can expect a light-hearted (and often smokey) atmosphere with lots of laughter, hilarity, interesting insights, introspection, and getting a little bit messy (but not too much).

LB: Given that people many ages and backgrounds consume and/or medicate with cannabis, are there some people who have surprised you by booking a class?

HK: One of the things I learned most quickly in teaching these classes is that even if there is (unfortunately) a “stoner stereotype”, there is no typical cannabis consumer. It’s people from all around the country (and world) of all different ages, backgrounds, cultures, and levels of experience in both painting and cannabis use. PP&P classes are full of anyone over the age of 21+ and that’s basically where the similarities end. There are young couples, groups of friends, families, solo travelers, solo painters, from early 20s to their 80s. One of my favorite classes over the past three years was attended by a young woman in her 30s who brought both of her grandparents, who were in their 80s. The grandmother said she hadn’t smoked in 40 years, but she painted and puffed with reckless abandon and had the entire class cracking up the whole time. The connection that cannabis and art can create between people who are otherwise so different, it’s magical.

LB: Puff Pass and Paint has done classes with non-profits or people in need — what was the reception in merging two healing activities of cannabis and art for those who attended?

HK: Puff, Pass & Paint and Colorado Cannabis Tours get involved as companies and as individuals in a number of ways in the community. With the recent election, I believe it’s important to be as pro-active, kind, outspoken, and as involved as possible in our communities and world, and also to keep furthering legalization and normalization by setting an example. We’ve been able to comp spots in our sessions to different organizations like Sense of Security, different NORML chapters, a variety of veterans groups, and are involved with Denver Green Team and are currently collecting items to donate for Denver Homeless Out Loud, to name a few. Cannabis and art are both so therapeutic and the combination of blending them together in a setting that is welcoming and warm, is an amazing thing to witness. With each class I teach, I’m reminded again how much I love what I do, and why.