By Jenna Wos, Staff Writer
University of Michigan – Dearborn student Miranda Robisch, 22, swipes her paintbrush across a canvas and takes a sip of her drink. She sits in a white studio, the walls lined with pictures. A snowman in a red scarf looks at a city skyline and a tiger’s eye is reflected in the wall-length mirror, watching the beach on the opposite side of the room. Robisch’s boyfriend sits beside her at a wooden table with three others, a total of 12 students in the private party. On each of their canvases they have created the same scene: two people sitting on a dock, looking at the night sky.
These artists, along with many more of all ages, have been attending “Painting with a Twist” classes since 2007 at 81 locations nationwide and similar classes since the concept developed, such as ones in privately owned studios or events held in restaurants or banquet halls.
“Going out to the movies and dinner gets old after a while. With this activity, you actually talk and spend time with the person you’re with,” said UM – Dearborn student Brittany Sheridan, 22, who has attended “Painting with a Twist” five times.
For $35, a student is supplied a canvas, paint, paintbrushes, and step-by-step visual instructions for the chosen painting. If desired, people may bring their own beverages. Studios hold both open sessions and private parties lasting around two hours and offer an array of pictures from which to choose. Monthly calendars with photos of the paintings show people which painting will be taught when, allowing them to sign up for the class or book their own party.
When choosing paintings for sessions, the owner of Painting Escapes in downtown Plymouth, Tony Schmitt, looks at them from the artist’s seat, picking ones that “look cool but aren’t too intimidating to beginner artists.”
“They teach you techniques as you paint that you can use time and time again. It’s also so much fun and a stress relief, especially because you can bring any drinks with you,” said Robisch.
Though many young adults attend, classes can appeal to all types of people. Children’s birthday parties, bachelorette parties, and bridal showers are among some of the events held in these studios.
“I have gone with by boyfriend on dates to this place. I have also gone with my mom and friends and they enjoyed the concept as well,” said Sheridan, who has done three seasonal paintings geared towards couples and two inspired by Van Gogh.
“I wish they would have let you custom pick the colors instead of having everything pre-laid out for you. I would have liked a sunset rather than a night sky,” said Robisch, that being her only complaint.
At a private studio like Painting Escapes, “creativity is encouraged,” said Schmitt, who allows the artists to change the colors according to their decor or what they want. When in a private party, the host or hostess is able to pick the painting they want to do and the music they want to hear.
“I have zero artistic talent, but they walk you through it and it’s fun,” said Andrea Gustafson, 24. With one instructor and an assistant helping the students, it is very simple for those with no art background.
“I loved the people teaching and how easy they made it. They were so helpful and came around to assist as needed,” Robisch added.
Sheridan summed up the 2 hour vacation best: “I love that it is an activity that is so social. We can interact with other couples, unwind with a beverage of our choosing, and get creative. At the end of the night we have something to represent the time we have spent together.”