The atmosphere has changed for Friday lunch patrons of the Tonto Village's Double "D" restaurant.
The local watering hole has become a gathering place for artists of many media and skill levels to work on their individual projects in a social environment.
"It is great fun on a Friday afternoon, especially instead of working day jobs," David Miller said as he added more yellow to his watercolor landscape. Drywall repairing and painting houses keeps him busy during the week.
"We did this eight years ago and now that the community is getting more artsy, Terry (Flores), Ethel (Cain) and myself decided to get it going again," said Miller, who has lived at Lee's Ranch for 12 years.
As the artists paint or draw, they share tips and techniques with each other.
"You can save (oil) paint on your pallet by putting it in the freezer," one artist says.
The group began meeting six weeks ago and is fast becoming a network of artists motivating and encouraging one another.
"It can be tough to make time to paint," said Cain, owner of the Double D. "I've completed painting a saw blade with a scene on it and a mountain lion on a rock since we started."
There are no dues and no decision-making meetings. Newcomers are welcome.
First-timer Chelsea Long loves to draw. She'll sketch from a picture or take her tablet into the woods.
"There are young people who want to (do their art) and now they have some guidance," oil color artist C.M. Scott said.
Even Double D cook Betty Koutz squeezes in some time for oil painting when the afternoon quiets down.
"This is my weekly getaway," Marie Leonard said.
"I come here and kick back and don't think about anything but how to put (my idea) on paper."
The Double D is located in Tonto Village. Take the Control Road off Highway 260, bear to the right after the first stop sign at the Village and the Double D is about halfway down the block on the right. Call (928) 478-4332.
Tonto Village artists gathering
When: 1 p.m. Fridays
Where: Double ‘D' restaurant in Tonto Village
Cost: No dues. Newcomers welcome.
Call: (928) 478-4332
-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.