When Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans in 2005, Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney wanted to do their part in bringing business and fun back to the stricken community. They developed a concept called Corks N Canvas. The entrepreneurs soon found that their patrons loved creating art in a casual and comfortable environment -- it was more about the whole experience than an art class. Rebranded and franchised as Painting with a Twist, the phenomenon took off.

Like many Painting with a Twist newbies, Hope Kinney and her longtime friend Sheri Penxa were skeptical when they decided to take in their first class.

It didn’t take long before they were hooked and returned for a second class. The two were so pleased with the carefree and fun experience that they wanted to open their own studio.

And that, they did – two studios, in fact.

Painting with a Twist #75 opened in Sarasota 2013 and #137, Bradenton, the following year.

Kinney and Penxa worked together in a local non-profit for many years and felt a connection to the philanthropic aspect of Painting with a Twist. In an ongoing effort to give back to the community, PWAT sponsors monthly Painting with a Purpose events in which proceeds are donated to local non-profits.

“This foundation was the main reason Sheri and I opened our first studio,” said Hope Kinney, Painting with a Twist co-owner.

Kinney and Penxa wanted to give back. “Over the past seven years we have given back over $110,000 to our Sarasota/Bradenton communities by partnering with community non-profits and having tons of fun doing it,” said Sheri.

The fun starts with a blank canvas and ends with a one-of-a-kind piece to take home and proudly display. Guests are provided a canvas, paint, and brushes. Art instructors guide participants through the chosen artwork step-by-step.

Not a painter? Not a problem! “Our classes are fun art, not fine art,” said Kinney. “There is no experience required to have a great time.”

The great time comes not only by painting, but with music, sipping on your favorite beverage, and sometimes even dancing.

“We have many Twisters who return several times a year,” Sheri said. “They did get addicted to the experience!”  

From abstracts to animals, seasonal landscapes and everywhere in between, there are thousands of artwork possibilities in the PWAT catalog. They are excited to offer many new surfaces such as Pinewood Planks, Shiplap Boards, Screen Art, and different size canvases in the studios.

Once a week is Open Studio, where guests get to choose their favorite artwork from a wall of options. The event is self-guided, but an instructor will be on hand for assistance.

There are also plenty of family-friendly classes like Pizza and Paint Night. They’ve even added a new twist – Paint and Trivia Night, based on popular TV shows, or theme nights like the 1980s.

Opportunities to gather your friends are endless! Both PWAT locations host birthday parties, girls’ night out, date night, baby or wedding showers, reunions, team building and more.

One of PWAT’s very popular classes is Paint Your Pet. Using an emailed photo of your pet, a PWAT artist will sketch the pet on your chosen medium (canvas or pinewood board). When you arrive at the studio, your pet will be waiting for you to paint. As with all classes (except Open Studio), an artist will walk you through each step during the three hours. “[The class] is truly amazing. Our guests are very happy!”

Limited spots fill quickly, but there is still availability for the October 13 class in Bradenton and October 26 in Sarasota.

A calendar of events can be found at PWAT Sarasota and PWAT Bradenton.

Click here for Sarasota hours and location information, and here for Bradenton.

Give Painting with a Twist a go and reveal your inner artist!

To keep up with things to do in Sarasota, register on 941area.com, we've got you covered!

Cover photo courtesy of Painting with A Twist Facebook