With a tag line, “Art as a Party,” Painting with a Twist is not a typical art class. It’s an opportunity to escape, enjoy, socialize and create. There is background music, a non-pressuring art teacher, and you can bring your own snacks and wine.
“There’s no experience necessary,” says Denise Ohlemacher, Painting with a Twist’s owner. “People make appointments online, and local artists walk them through two- to three-hour classes. They leave with their own personal masterpieces and feel great about it.”
Ohlemacher recalls a time last year when, shortly after the studio opened, a woman told her after class that the studio had changed her life. “It gives people a place to go. She needed something in her life. That was the best night I’ve had so far because I knew what I was doing was important.” In fact, the woman still attends classes and is now one of the studio’s frequent painters. “She had artistic skill but hadn’t painted for a while,” Ohlemacher adds.
While she can’t stake claim on the studio’s concept, Ohlemacher immediately recognized its potential. She saw photos of Houston friends’ work. Then, while in Miami, she visited a local franchise and was hooked. Discovering there were no locations in Ohio, she jumped at the opportunity to open one herself. (A franchise opened in Cincinnati a couple months before the Avon location.)
Ohlemacher learned of an available space in Olde Avon Village through a friend. “I knew the minute I saw it that it was the perfect venue.”
Since opening, she has discovered that painting is something anyone can do. “People come and escape for a couple of hours. They discover something about themselves. They tell me that this is something that they haven’t done since kindergarten.”
Participants’ fear of not creating a masterpiece is left at the doorway and replaced with reassurance when the instructor says, “Our first lesson: This is a small paintbrush; this is a large one.” (Instructors demand, however, that each student pay no attention to his or her neighbor.)
Subject matter for each class differs, ranging from people to abstract creation, landscapes and more. The Avon franchise has classes for painting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, “Starry Night Over Cleveland,” the Cleveland Bridge and Perry’s Monument. The local scenes are the most popular, she says.
Ohlemacher acknowledges that some artists are advanced painters, but says most are amateurs. Whatever the skill level, she promises everyone will leave with a 16-by-20-inch canvas masterpiece.
Classes are offered Wednesdays through Sundays. Mondays and Tuesdays are reserved for private parties.
“It’s all about fun art … not fine art,” Ohlemacher says.