Michelle Lewis has just a few rules for those entering her Painting With a Twist studios to try a bit of canvas painting: No paintbrushes in the wine cups, no drinking the paint water and, when in doubt, have another sip of wine.
Lewis’ Painting with a Twist locations in Detroit, Farmington and Ferndale help southeast Michigan parents find their artsy side – even if they swear they can’t paint.
It’s a concept that’s resonated. Lewis was a pioneer here in southeast Michigan, starting up in Ferndale in 2010. You can also find franchises in Ann Arbor, Chesterfield Township, Dearborn, Fenton, Rochester Hills, Roseville, Shelby Township and Wixom – and, as of summer 2018, arriving soon in Livonia.
Local artists entertain and guide customers through the process of creating their own works of art, using a template painting as a reference. And yes: Visitors can bring bottles of wine to sip as they tap into their inner artiste!
How it all began
Lewis was born in Detroit but moved to Louisiana to work after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area. There, a friend brought Lewis to her first encounter with Corks N Canvas. Despite initially not knowing what to expect, she says she fell in love with the experience and started going more often.
Lewis’ Facebook pictures of her creations intrigued her friends back home.
“I had a lot of friends from (metro Detroit) say, ‘Do we have one of those here? I would love to do that.’ And that’s when the light bulb went off,” she says.
How it works
Studios offer both public classes, where the template painting is predetermined, and private parties, where the host selects his or her painting of choice.
Painting with a Twist has thousands of paintings in its database. The collection is a melange of different styles and topics; some come from Painting with a Twist artists around the country, while others are famous artworks, such as Van Gough’s “Starry Night.” Still others are locally inspired; skylines of the Motor City or a Woodward Avenue street sign are among those created by Ferndale artists.
It’s not paint-by-numbers – although pre-sketched canvases are sometimes prepared for the most difficult paintings, most customers start with blank canvases.
“People will say, ‘Oh I don’t paint. I don’t do this.’ But you just gotta be willing to have a good time, and we’ll provide the rest,” says Lewis.
Because the studio uses acrylic paint, which dries quickly, customers can take their masterpieces home after class is over.
Finding an escape – and confidence
Painting with a Twist also has family day and summer children’s camp offerings, but evenings are reserved for adults only. Customers are more than welcome to bring their own snacks, wine or other beverages with them to create a relaxed atmosphere.
“For adults, it’s more like an evening out,” Lewis says. “A lot of times, they’re not able to have their ‘me’ time, so this is almost like their ‘me’ time.”
Customers are encouraged to give the paintings their own creative touches without worrying about being right.
“Right is what you make it,” Lewis says. “It’s art; it’s all right in your eyes, and if it’s right in your eyes, then it has to be right to everybody else’s eyes.”
For those still nervous about their artistic abilities, Lewis has encouragement.
“I say as long as you can pick up a pencil or a pen, you can pick up a paintbrush, and we’ll show you how to do the rest.”
Costs and locations
Two- and three-hour classes are commonly available; be sure to check ahead for the latest cost information and offerings.
Painting with a Twist has the following locations in and near the metro Detroit and Ann Arbor areas:
- Ann Arbor: 3143 Oak Valley Drive, 734-662-7928
- Chesterfield Township: 50850 Gratiot Ave., 586-949-7928
- Dearborn: 22219 Michigan Ave., 313-204-5406
- Detroit: 1420 Washington Blvd., 313-960-4793
- Farmington: 33033 Grand River Ave., 248-476-7928
- Fenton: 17155 Silver Parkway, 810-629-7928
- Ferndale: 200 W. Nine Mile Road, 248-850-7182
- Livonia: Coming soon as of summer 2018
- Rochester Hills: 3320 S. Rochester Road, 248-289-6507
- Roseville: 29004 Gratiot Ave., 586-204-5406
- Shelby Township: 50336 Schoenherr Road, 586-247-7928
- Wixom: 49785 Grand River Ave., 248-773-7086
Call individual locations or visit Painting with a Twist online to learn more about hours and availability.
This post was originally published in 2011 and is updated regularly.