A little paint, a little wine and a masterpiece

Westside extension right-of-way land acquired
December 14, 2010
Thursday, Dec. 16
December 16, 2010

For the non-artist, a 16 X 20 inch blank canvas might as well be as big as the side of a barn.

There are just too many decisions. What’s the subject? What colors would look nice? Where should the first stroke of paint go? That doesn’t look like a duck.

This is not relaxing n this is not fun n I need a drink.

Hillary Hebert and Elizabeth Stokes know how you feel and have found a way to help the dimensionally challenged create artwork they can be proud of.

The two women opened Painting With a Twist Oct. 2 on Corporate Drive in Houma to the gratitude of those with the desire to paint, but not the nerve.

Painting With a Twist is a franchise of Mandeville-based Corks N Canvas which opened in 2007.

The concept is easy. Offer an art class that stretches the definition of a class, add some friends, a lively and creative teacher, some libation and viola, anyone can become an artist.

“We make it easy for you. Just go to our website and check the calendar. Pick a painting you would like to try, sign up and that’s it,” said co-owner Hillary Hebert.

When aspiring artists show up for class, they’re presented with their own canvas, paint, brushes, easel and apron.

Those taking the two hour classes have a choice. They can draw the subject on their canvas or trace a stencil. Those taking the three hour classes will find their subject already drawn for them.

Local artists make up the staff of Painting With a Twist. To prepare for a class, they complete a sample painting in advance to get a feel for how they want to teach it.

That sample is displayed during the session. The instructor then paints another painting along with the students explaining the process stroke for stroke.

“The clients can see what the finished painting is supposed to look like while the teacher is painting along with them,” Hebert said.

The instructors roam through the class making sure everyone is progressing and not having any problems.

“We try to teach them to look at the student’s body language. You can tell if somebody is frustrated or a little overwhelmed. So they make the client comfortable and give them a little one on one,” Hebert said.

The classes and topics are designed for the non-painters and perfection is not the ultimate goal. The goal is twofold. Can it be done in two or three hours and will it be fun?

The wide assortment of topics ranging from landscapes, cityscapes, seafood, animals, Saints and LSU fit those criteria with the fleur de lis topping the list.

The franchise is always in search of new topics and looks to the surrounding areas for inspiration.

“If there’s something within the community that we’ve heard about or we feel is an important part of the city, we’ll go and ask do you mind if we do a painting of your store or restaurant. Most people are very flattered and excited,” Hebert said.

The Hammond store did just that for 76-year-old Middendorf’s Restaurant.

“We painted one for them so it’s up on their wall and then we have one in the store we’ll run as a class,” Hebert said.

The informal classes average about 20-25 students in Houma and aren’t limited to the regularly scheduled classes.

The store can accommodate any group of 10 or more wishing a private session including office or birthday parties for adults or kids.

“We don’t really close except for Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. If somebody wants to book a class, we’ll be here,” Hebert said.

One night each month is reserved for Painting With a Purpose. The Corks N Canvas owners believe it’s important for the company to be active members of the community and donate the proceeds from the class to local non-profit organizations.

Hebert explained that her students take the classes to have a good, stress-free time, make some new friends and possibly unlock some hidden talent.

“We’ve had people come who were supposed to come with two or three friends that ended up not making it. The lone student nervously comes by themselves and winds up making friends. Then next time they’ll come as a little group,” Hebert said.

“Our instructors will guide you through each step of recreating the featured picture, and you’ll have painlessly created a piece of art before you know it. Have a sip and paint a stroke and you will find your inner Rembrandt.

“We want people to feel relaxed. Many come in nervous that they haven’t painted before n it’s all about the experience.”

Painting With a Twist co-owner Hillary Hebert shows off some of the paintings created at her Houma location. She and co-owner Elizabeth Stokes have another location in Hammond. JENNIE CHILDS