WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — A studio recently opened by a veteran in the Grand Rapids area promises a fun experience for artists of all levels.

Alaina Turner celebrated the grand opening of the new Painting with a Twist spot at 3233 Alpine Ave NW near I-96 in Grand Rapids on April 11. Guests who take a class can buy drinks at the bar, bring some snacks and relax as an artist leads them through an acrylic painting.

Turner first discovered Painting with a Twist when she was in the military. She joined at 19 and served in the U.S. Air Force.

“After I joined the military, I didn’t make time for art,” Turner said. “Life got in the way and I didn’t make it a priority. And then once I started doing it again, I realized, ‘Wow, I really needed this.'”

She got a part-time job working at a Painting with a Twist studio while stationed in Florida, where she enjoyed making sure other people had a good experience.

Painting with a Twist in the Grand Rapids area. (April 27, 2023)
Painting with a Twist in the Grand Rapids area. (April 27, 2023)

“Going into the studio, it was just … exciting. It was a relief,” she said. “Even if I was tired, once I walked in, it was like, ‘OK, we’re here. We’re going to enjoy this and have fun.'”

A few years ago, after serving in the Air Force for 24 years, Turner — who grew up in Muskegon — retired from the military and moved back to West Michigan.

“I just couldn’t get that Painting with a Twist out of my mind,” she said. “So when I found out there wasn’t a studio here, I started the process of, ‘OK, what do I got to do to open my own business?'”

Navigating opening a business, from the paperwork to loan applications, was a challenge, so Turner took a veterans entrepreneur class through Grand Valley State University. The two teachers who helped her navigate the challenges were both artists themselves, she said.

Turner said several people helped her make her goal a reality.

“I made a call to somebody at the city to ask a question about my liquor license,” she explained. “I said, ‘Hey, I’ve never done this. I’m (a) veteran learning all this.’ And it was like, ‘Oh, here, let me share with you.’ … I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it if people hadn’t been so giving and willing to help.”

Turner found some talented artists to help run the classes. She said they are all personable and can help guide guests through the painting regardless of their skill level.

She said they’ve had everyone from 70-year-olds and people who have never picked up a paintbrush to artists looking to get some practice in.

Painting with a Twist in the Grand Rapids area. (April 27, 2023)
Painting with a Twist in the Grand Rapids area. (April 27, 2023)

Along with two-hour classes for adults, Painting with a Twist also offers hour and a half classes for kids, with easier projects and dance breaks. It also offers three-hour classes for adults who want to focus more on the details.

Since the grand opening, the classes have been filling up and Turner said she has received a lot of great feedback from the community. Some customers have already come in three or four times, she said.

“It’s all a way for us to connect,” Turner said. “Everybody needs connection. And for me, this is a way I connect with the community and get outside of my little bubble. … I get to spread happiness, art happiness.”

The location also has a party room that guests can book for things like bachelorette parties, team building events or a girls night out. Painting with a Twist can also host parties off-site.

Through Painting with a Twist, Turner said she can also host a ‘Painting with a Purpose’ fundraiser once a month for nonprofits. Turner said she will be hosting the first fundraiser on Sunday, May 7 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to support a local veteran family.

Turner is excited to be open in the Grand Rapids area.

“I’m really glad I came home to open up because it’s such an artistic town and there’s so many talented people,” Turner said.

For more information, go to paintingwithatwist.com.