With the grand opening of Painting with a Twist - Skippack, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 12-year township resident Jennifer Elwell saw years of dreams and months of hard work come to fruition in bold, beautiful colors.
Growing up, Elwell was a self-described "creative person" and remembers poring over the the design courses when she would peruse college course catalogs.
"My dad would say to me, 'Oh, you're going to President of the United States,'" Elwell said, and remembered musing, 'Well, I guess I won't (go into design).'
After college, Elwell spent about 15 years as a corporate consultant with a successful, high-profile company. However, a trip home to New Orleans brought her love for art and creativity roaring to her mind's forefront.
After seeing an ad in the paper for a Painting with a Twist store (the company is based in New Orleans, LA), she was sold on the idea of a BYOB art studio, and from the second she arrived for her session, "I knew this was it for me."
"I've been looking for something creative and fun to do," Elwell told her guests prior to the Skippack store's ribbon cutting. Her two daughters, now 4 and 6, "love art, and I wanted them to know they could do something (like this)" and pursue creative dreams, Elwell added in a later interview.
"(When you come to Painting with a Twist) Something inside you -- from when you were a kid -- just unlocks," Elwell said.
It took a lot of hard work -- Elwell said "every waking moment" of the last couple months have been consumed by Painting with a Twist -- to convert her dream and the old Skippack fire house into a real business that offered a fun experience to the community.
Elwell has gotten to know the Skippack residents throughout her last dozen years here, and thinks that Painting with a Twist can give them a new, fun activity for a date night or a girls' night out.
Painting with a Twist customers can sign up for a two-hour ($35 per person) or three-hour class ($45 per person) and -- armed with their preferred alcoholic beverages -- work under the direction of an artist to create their own versions of various artists' paintings.
The grand opening crowd Thursday was guided by Painting with a Twist's corporate artist Eddie LaViolette as they painted Vincent van Gogh's Mulberry Tree.
When LaViolette asked how many people were painting for the first time, several hands shot up in the air.
"You guys are going to have baaaaad paintings," he joked.
"The great thing is everyone's painting will look different," he continued to say. "Embrace your own 'van Gogh tree' and just have fun."
People appeared to take that advice as they chatted with their friends and neighboring 'artists' and grooved to the music blasting out of the iPod speakers -- "Sweet Caroline" grew into a group singalong.
Spirits remained high even when a couple, brief in-house power outages took everyone by surprise. When the lights flickered back on, people clapped and cheered. Elwell stayed smiling.
Visit the Painting with a Twist website for more information on upcoming events and private parties.
Editor's note: This article has been changed to note that Painting with a Twist offers two- and three-hour classes and that the works customers model come from artists with varying degrees of fame.