Painting with a Twist: when learning and fun collide

Kendall Alvis is an instructor at Painting with a Twist where she recently taught a class on painting a mermaid and a beach scene. Annie Goodman/The Lion's Roar

Painting with a Twist began in post-Katrina Louisiana by two women named Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney. Downtown Hammond is the fourth of 344 locations throughout 39 states.

Painting with a Twist paint studio #4 Manager Marilyn Kennedy believes Deano and Maloney give something to the public to take their minds off things and have a wonderful experience. 

“Painting with a Twist is a place where people can come and enjoy a social time,” said Kennedy. “They’re kind of entertained as well as they learn a little bit about art. We call it ‘fun art,’ not ‘fine art.’ We coach them from the first step to the last, and they leave with a completed painting as well as a good time.”

Kennedy feels Painting with a Twist appeals to more audiences by teaching painting without focusing on technique.

“In a regular painting lesson, the teacher will teach them technique and take time explaining the makings and understanding of paint and shadowing and all those techniques,” said Kennedy. “We have, however, simplified a painting for them to be able to complete that an average person can do. They don’t necessarily want to come for a lesson. They just want to paint a painting, have a good time. So, we’re not bogged down in any kind of technique.”

They are willing to teach technique to people who wish to learn, though.

“However, we have great artists, and we throw in a little technique,” said Kennedy. “So, if people are looking for learning and growing in art, you get that as well. Painting with a Twist is known more for speed art and entertainment.”

Kennedy believes people are drawn to Painting with a Twist because they are constantly upgrading their services to appeal to broad audiences. They have recently incorporated wooden canvases and glitter options for patrons.

“The crazy thing is we’ve had the 4-year-old in here to the 92-year-old, and I don’t know any kind of business that goes from that extreme and offers something that a child can do and 92-year-old can do,” said Kennedy. “It’s just the beauty of a picture. Paintings draw people. Art draws people. Everybody just loves art. If you’ve got the right picture up, it’s gonna draw people in here.”

Kennedy, who has been working at Painting with a Twist since about a year after it opened, shared a story of getting out of a speeding ticket by telling the police officer that she was just so excited to get to work.

“I heard of it like a year and a half after it opened through a friend,” said Kennedy. “She was the manager here at the time. We had our children at the same school, and we were doing art together for theatre. She mentioned to me that there was a position opened. I had just ended a thing that I was doing in my life, and it just seemed like the thing to do, to come and apply, and I simply loved it. Still love it.”

Kennedy feels giving people confidence and helping them achieve something that they’ve never done before inspires a love of creation in people.

“I think that we are always in need of creating,” said Kennedy. “Creating actually motivates people for the future. It makes you feel like things are possible. I think it gives hope. With art, it makes you feel more accomplished. You can feel that way about a purchase of a piece of art, and to be able to look at the beauty of it every day, will give you hope. But to do it and leave with that, I believe it gives people confidence. With confidence, there’s hope and plans. It just makes people feel awesome, like their lives matter.”

Becky Harper attended a semi-private party to celebrate Beth May’s birthday where she learned to paint a fleur-de-lis. Annie Goodman/The Lion's Roar