[SPECIAL FEATURE] I’d Tap That – Painting With a Twist

Special Feature to the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Network Blog courtesy of new PCBN Blogger Kristy Locklin. Follow her on Twitter at @undeadhead

After a night of drinking, I often express myself through bad poetry, regrettable text messages and even some better-than-average bathroom graffiti. But nothing that would fall into the category of “fine art.”

Then I went to Painting with a Twist and became a beer-swilling Bob Ross!

Founded in Louisiana in 2007, the instructional art studio has nearly 200 franchise locations across the country, including sites in Monroeville, Wexford, Mt. Lebanon and Robinson. The premise is simple: gather a few friends, grab a six-pack or a bottle of wine, and – under the guidance of an in-house artist – create a masterpiece.

Katie, Rachel, Amber and I have been drinking buddies for 15 years (20 if you count all those times in high school when we raided our parents’ liquor cabinets), so this was a nice change of pace from the bar scene. I was, however, afraid we’d be forced to sip Arbor Mist while completing a paint-by-numbers portrait of a kitten.

While Painting with a Twist does offer animal themes, as well as cityscapes, abstracts and florals, booze is the most popular muse. The walls of the Monroeville location are decked with colorful tributes to champagne flutes, wine glasses and neon-green margaritas.

Thankfully, our subject matter last Friday night was something that set my hops-lovin’ heart aflutter: a row of beer taps!

Beer Taps

Katie and Rachel split a bottle of cabernet, Amber stuck with her beloved Honey Brown Lager and I savored a 22-ounce bomber of Long Trail Brewing Company’s Imperial Stout. The black-as-motor-oil liquid, which boasts an 8.8 percent ABV, helped to rev my creative engine. The Vermont-based brewery commissions local artists to design labels for its Brush & Barrel series of beers, so that provided extra inspiration.

We were each given an apron, two brushes, paint and a blank canvas.

Blank Canvas

Instructors Rachel Renaudin and Kristen Hutchinson were as upbeat as the music blaring overhead. They assured the class that although the “On Tap” painting was one of the most challenging in the company’s catalog, everyone would be happy with the results.

Ready to Paint

I was doubtful. For most of the three-hour session, my painting looked like the handiwork of a messy toddler. I kept sipping stout, hoping that beer goggles would improve the view.

Long Trail Beer

But, with the instructors providing pep talks from the stage, my friends and I powered through. We loosened up, started joking around. Perfectionism fell by the wayside.

Suddenly, a beautiful image began to emerge from the chaos. By the time my bottle was empty, I had completed a bonafide objet d’art … suitable for hanging in any dive bar!

Finished Product

Ms. Renaudin, who worked at Blue Canoe Brewery in Titusville, PA, beamed with pride as she surveyed our work. She crowned my pal, Katie, “Most Valuable Painter” and presented her with a customized beer stein.

My finished painting was reward enough from me. As soon as I got home, I hung that sucker in my beer-themed kitchen (a.k.a The Bitchen), where it’ll remind me to tap into my creative side each time I grab a cold brew from the fridge.

Hopefully, that’ll stop me from sending those drunken texts.

Interested in unleashing your inner artist? Visit www.paintingwithatwist.com to schedule a painting party.

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