Local Painting With a Twist offers sessions of care-free, fun painting By Chloe Murray

Painting With a Twist, franchised in Westport by Janice McGuire, a company that runs painting sessions for any group of people to sign up for. They offer a wide range of paintings that participants can choose from. The company has over 300 studios across the country. McGuire majored in art in college, and comments on her passion for the company. "Rather than a dinner and a movie or some of the usual things people usually do, it's an opportunity to do something really fun." McGuire said. "It's festive yet very relaxing.”
A typical Painting with a Twist class begins with a blank canvas. In the Snowy Owl class, instructor Lorraine Gelard drew the owl for the painter, creating an easier experience for the customer. Robin Zelesnick, a first-time customer at Painting With a Twist, explains that she has no painting experience, and is thankful that she does not have to draw the complex owl herself. "I like that it's drawn out for us," Zelesnick said.
At the front of the class, a completed canvas is present so that customers can visualize what the completed project should look like. The instructor will paint on the blank canvas, and hopefully emerge with an identical painting to the one next to it. The before and after products helps painters understand the step-by-step pattern and guide them in completing the final product.
After the customers arrive, the fun and light-hearted mood is set while "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson is played through the speaker and people are given the opportunity to let loose and relax before the painting session, adding to the pleasure of the night.
Friends enjoy each other's company as they follow along with their instructor. One customer, Winnie Victor, comments on her love of the use of song during the session. "I love that they play music... I think it adds to the creative feel, they just play such a variety." Winnie (Left: Winnie Victor, Right: Jamie Fadely)
From kids' parties to Girl Scout events and even the Staples Econ Class, Painting With a Twist attracts all kinds of attendees. Painter Barbara Leone-Dembin attended the session with her law firm, seeking a unique way to conclude the year. "We were thinking about an end-of-year party, and this seemed like a great choice to get our creative outlet and have fun," Leone-Dembin said.
Because the canvases are painted in the traditional background-first style, they need some time (and hair-dryers) to dry before painters continue with the top layers. Pictured, instructor Lorraine Gelard dries the canvases with a hair-dryer while the painters take a break.
While the canvases dry, painters participate in a traditional game of Hot Potato. No matter the age, this game proves to be something that everyone can enjoy and laugh over as canvases dry. While McGuire plays music throughout the speakers, participants throw the ball around speedily. As soon as the music stops, the person holding the ball is out, prompting laughter throughout the room.
Customer Catherine Knoedler emerges victorious as the Hot Potato winner, and gets to pick one small prize from a variety of options. These options include Painting With a Twist coupons, popsockets, phone wallets and more.
The painters gradually progress toward the completion of their tree branches and await the painting of the owl. Every canvas will look different and unique, as the creative freedom permits people to express their inner-artist. "It's a chance to express a creative feeling, without having to do too much work,” Winnie Victor said.
The before-painting begin to increasingly resemble the after-painting. At the end of the session, these paintings can be taken home to hang up, admire and show-off as painters can proudly declare "I made that". McGuire explains the beauty of Painting For a Twist. “Whether or not you have an artistic bone in your body,” McGuire said, “and whether you have any desire to do art here, and some people do, it’s just a fun night out.”