Tag Archives: Janice McGuire

Painting With A Twist (And With Wine)

Here in the US, the largest employer of artists is: our schools.

The 2nd largest? “Painting With a Twist.”

Those are 2 great facts I learned from Ellen Meehan Jent.

Here’s another: She and longtime friend Janice McGuire are opening up the 98th “Painting With a Twist” franchise here in Westport, this Friday.

If you think that’s worthy of a toast, you’re the person Ellen and Janice have in mind. “Painting With a Twist” is a place where people get together to paint. To discover their inner artist. And to do it while listening to music and sipping nice, art-inspiring wine.

“Painting With a Twist” is located in the Pier 1 shopping center (behind the old V restaurant).  Soon, Ellen and Janice hope, the large space will be hopping as all kinds of groups gather to do something  artistic. Something fun. Something definitely different.

Painting With a Twist -- ready for painters, and a twist.

Painting With a Twist — ready for painters, and a twist.

The women met when their kids were in pre-school. Janice and Ellen joined the Young Women’s League, gravitating toward projects that bring people together.

When they met the founder of “Painting With a Twist,” they had an aha! moment. What better time than now — and better place than fast-paced Westport — to offer “Painting With a Twist”?

In New Orleans — the franchise headquarters — the Westporters sat in on a session. At the next table were 2 nurses. Nearby were 2 younger women; 1 was pregnant. “Normally, I’d never have talked with them,” Ellen says.

When “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” came on, the women started bopping. “We made a connection with them,” Ellen notes. “There was a real transformation. It’s a left brain/right brain thing. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.” She describes the scene as “not a bar, not a home — something very different.”

Janice calls the concept “transformational.”

There’s a deep relaxation that comes from focusing on your color mixing and brushstrokes. By the end of a class, a room full of strangers has little by little become united as they laugh, sing along with the music, and sometimes make fun of their own painting skills. It’s about the process, not the product.  But everyone comes away feeling relaxed and inspired, and proud of their masterpieces.  It can become addictive, relaxing like yoga, fun like a party, and inspiring like a fresh idea.

The 2 women have worked together before. After 9/11 they created a Women’s Circle. They were empowerment seminars, breaking into small groups for part of the session for connection and sharing. Now, they look forward to a fun atmosphere, and an activity that gets people out of the house for something beyond dinner or drinks.

Janice McGuire (left) and Ellen Meehan Jent.

Janice McGuire (left) and Ellen Meehan Jent.

Each “Painting With a Twist” session is run by an artist/facilitator who helps explain the process, encourages conversation and stimulates creativity and laughter. The first 4 to sign on in Westport have intriguing backgrounds. One is a high school art teacher and professional comic. Another is a part-Jewish, part-African American minister who leads empowerment training for girls. The 3rd works in fashion. The 4th is a furniture painter.

The space can be booked for 2- or 3-hour parties — for holidays, birthdays, corporate outings, Sweet 16s, bachelorettes, girls’ night out, special events and more.

You paint on bare 16″ by 20″ canvases (paint and brushes are provided). You choose the art you want to paint — landscapes, cityscapes, flowers, abstracts, whatever — and the music playlist. (You also choose the wine, since it’s BYOB.)

Oh, yeah. You get to keep your artwork, too.

(For more information, click here or call 203-955-1855.)