Painting with a Twist 2

Artist and Stage Manager Alex Monik teaches from the stage as students in the Paint Your Zombie class follow her directions.

(PHOTO BY KATHLEEN MERRILL)

Have you always wanted to paint but never thought you had the talent?

Well, there’s a place you can go where you can have fun, paint a great canvas and give back to the community: Painting with a Twist.

Oh, you can also have beer or wine while you paint.

Painting with a Twist is a franchise studio owned by artist Brooke Pelton. The studio opened just over a year ago.

After getting her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts at Purdue, Pelton owned a small studio downtown, where she sold art supplies and taught classes. But then, she discovered Painting with a Twist, and decided to open a franchise.

The company is owned by two women from New Orleans who began it after Hurricane Katrina, Pelton said. They wanted to give back to their community, so they started holding once-a-month Painting with a Purpose sessions; all franchises participate in that as well.

“It has been wonderful,” Pelton said. “We give 50 percent of what’s made in the class to an organization. That was a big component for them and it is for me as well.”

The company now has more than 300 studios throughout the United States.

The standard class at Painting with a Twist is a two-hour session.

“They all paint the same thing,” Pelton said of each class attendee. “You sign up and come in. Our artists stand onstage, entertain you and walk you through the process step by step.”

In specialty classes like the recent Paint Your Zombie or the upcoming Paint Your Pet, class attendees send in a high-resolution photo of the subject they want to paint. When they arrive for class, they get a pre-sketched work, “so they have the basic shapes and values” to start with, Pelton said.

“We have paint your own house, paint your own pet. You can paint your own anything,” she said with a laugh.

The business also has open studio time.

“What I really want people to know is it’s fun art and it’s therapeutic, and you don’t have to have any experience,” Pelton said. “You come as a team, or with friends and family, you let loose, and try something new and creative.

“We provide an experience, and you’ll walk away with a painting you like, but you will also walk away with great memories from your experience.”

During Paint Your Zombie night, Stage Manager Alex Monik and Floor Manager Caroline Owen were made up like zombies and they had class attendees laughing at jokes in between instruction about how to mix colors, what brushes to choose and how to work with shading and detail.

Kristen Rushinsky was attending her third class, where she was painting her 3-year-old grandson Liam as a zombie.

“He loves zombies, so I had to have him turned into a zombie,” she said while outlining an eyeball dangling from its socket.

Brittanie Babb, attending her second class, was working nearby on a painting of herself with two of her three cats.

“My cats are a big part of my life,” she said. “My mom lives in Monticello and I don’t really get to see her that often, so my cats mean a lot to me.”

Once a month, the studio offers a free class where previous attendees can bring their paintings back and work on them with help from the five to seven artists who work there. Pelton said she loves the company and she is having fun with her franchise.

“They’re just very innovative, always coming up with new products,” she said. “I’m really happy to have made the decision to go with them.”

The franchise “provides a great platform for local artists,” she added. “It lets them highlight their art to the community.”

Classes have benefitted charities and organizations such as the Almost Home Humane Society, United Way, Food Finders, Riley Hospital for Children and a little girl who needed a kidney transplant.

“They packed the house,” Pelton said of that class. “We had both rooms full. They raised a lot of money.”

The business also did a fundraiser for Love for Logan, a 2-year-old Lafayette boy who was injured in an accident and ultimately died from those injuries.

“We reached out to his mom when that happened and raised some money for them,” Pelton said, adding that being able to raise money for people who need it is “awesome, and I know our team appreciates it, giving back to the community. It makes me proud.”

Class attendees pay between $25 and $55 per class, depending on the topic, the length of the class and whether the artists have to prep canvasses for people to paint. Options for items to paint include a 16-by-20 canvas, a wood board or two wine glasses. Attendees have the option to purchase beer, wine, coffee, sodas and snacks during the class.

“You can have a glass of wine or a coffee and laugh with your friends and have a good time,” Pelton said, adding that she tries to get local items for refreshments, like cheese from Fair Oaks Farms and beer from People’s Brewing Co.

Other classes offered include those for families and children, couples and team building.

“Those are really great for people working together, because we do murals for that,” Pelton said. “Each person has a canvas that they paint, and it’s a piece of the puzzle, then the company can put them together as one piece. That has everyone who’s a member of the team working together as a whole.”

The business also has a private party room and will soon be doing things like ugly Christmas sweater parties. Pelton said she recently got a disco ball and black lights, and there are classes with black light paints.

“My main thing is I want people to know it’s an experience when they come in,” she said. “It’s not watching paint dry. It’s not just painting. We play games, our artists are entertaining, we have drinks and music, and it’s really fun.”

In fact, Rule No. 6 is, “Have fun!!!” The other rules include No. 1 (“Relax! Your painting will turn out fine. We promise!”) and No. 5 (“Whine if necessary”).

Painting with a Twist – at 2049 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Suite 13, in the Market South shopping center – is open from 2-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Learn more about classes or booking a party by calling 765-269-7221 or going to www.paintingwithatwist.com/lafayette-in.