Painting with a Twist, a paint and sip franchise, opened its first Long Island location in Selden on April 9.
The studio will offer what the website calls “fun art, not fine art.” Paint and sip classes feature an artist who teaches a class how to paint one pre-selected painting step-by-step to wine sipping attendees.
“We’re not teaching how to paint,” Selden Painting with a Twist owner, Nancy Loguercio, said. “It’s not about teaching how to paint, it’s about walking them through something fun — it’s not an art class, it’s a fun time.”
Loguercio was a graphic design artist for 15 years before she made the decision to switch to a more stable job in healthcare after being laid off in 2001. However, she decided she wanted to get back into art and open a business to afford her family more financial security.
Faced with a plethora of options, as many paint and sip franchises have popped up in the past decade — Muse Paintbar, Pinot’s Palette, Paint Nite and Wine and Design — Loguercio ultimately chose Painting with a Twist because of the company’s “Painting with a Purpose” program.
The program requires each Painting with a Twist location — there are more than 340 locations in 39 states — to hold a fundraiser for a local or regional non-profit organization each month. On April 25, the Selden franchise raised $1,500 for Stony Brook Cancer Center
As a mother of a disabled son and a daughter who is a cancer survivor, Loguercio said she appreciates the opportunity to give back. Through the program, Painting with a Twist has donated over 4 million dollars to non-profit organizations like Habitat for Humanity, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, according to the company’s website.
Aside from the company’s charitability, Loguercio hopes that Painting with a Twist will be a fun, therapeutic place for members of the community to gather and create.
However, some artists criticize paint and sip businesses for sucking the creativity out of painting.
A quick Google search for “artists against paint night,” brings articles like “A Critique of Paint Nite in 14 Points” and “Paint Nite — Where Anyone Can Be a Really Bad Artist.” Some artists choose to rage against the paint and sip machine that cranks out generic, paint-by- numbers-type paintings, but Loguercio and former Wine and Design teacher Erin Bogosian say these artists are missing the point of paint and sip, which is its fun, stress-relieving nature, as well as its ability to employ artists who may otherwise struggle to make ends meet.
“No one is going to Vincent Van Gogh their way out of Wine and Design,” Bogosian, who is also a junior 2D animation student at Pratt Institute, said.
“I kind of compare it to yoga in a weird way,” she added. “A very, very low stress [activity] meant to clear the mind. The experience itself is not exactly meant to make you a fantastic artist it’s supposed to help you relax and let the stress out.”
There is a growing body of research that suggests that painting and other forms of art are indeed therapeutic, according to a report by Harvard University Women’s Health Watch.
“Studies have shown that expressing themselves through art can help people with depression, anxiety, or cancer, too,” the report said. “And doing so has been linked to improved memory, reasoning, and resilience in healthy older people.”
Bogosian said that though teaching the same simple painting over and over again may be boring for the artists, they have the benefit of making money while creating art.
“A lot of artists just end up working at Starbucks and you know doing nitty-gritty things to pass the time and make money,” Bogosian said. “I wanted to find a way to let artists make money based on art and things that they enjoy doing.”
As a teacher, Bogosian found she could express her creativity by submitting paintings to the Wine and Design corporate office to be used as teaching materials for classes. When a painting was accepted, the artists would be paid $50 to $60 for their work and then would make another $50 for each class they taught — whether it was their own painting or another accepted painting.
She stressed the importance of simplicity in these sample paintings, explaining that the first painting she created was “too advanced.”
“I went a little bit too hard trying to impress [the owner]. I did a lot of blending and stuff and [the owner told me] these are going to be very drunk city moms, you can’t ask them to blend stuff.”
At Painting with a Twist in Selden, Loguercio employs eight local artists, whom she found through a Craigslist ad that received 150 applications. Some of the artists are moms, some are students, but all are true artists, she said.
The walls of the Selden location are covered with sample paintings, the teachers’ self-portraits and paintings that encourage painters to share their work on social media. The hashtag “Painting with a Twist,” has been used about 340,000 times on Instagram.
“Basically it’s just a fun place,” Loguercio said of her business. “With everything going on in the world right now, you just need a break from it all. It forces people to unplug and detox from [their] electronics and breaks people away from that. I don’t think we get enough of that in this society.”