- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

BRISTOL, Va. (AP) - There’s a new opportunity in the Twin City to let your artistic side flourish.

Walk into the new Masterpiece Mixers studio on Volunteer Parkway in Bristol and you might feel like you’ve stumbled into a giant party. But there’s something more constructive going on.

Elizabeth Greenwell opened her franchise of Masterpiece Mixers in Johnson City in 2014 and had been searching for a location in the Bristol. She found it at 1250 Volunteer Parkway.

“We opened at the beginning of February and I’m excited because I felt like this was very much something that Bristol needed,” Greenwell said. “Business in Bristol has been solid so far.”

Here’s how it works: The party music starts and everyone receives a blank canvas, a palette of colors, paint brushes, and a water cup. Greenwell begins breaking down each subsequent step to the final product - all while trying to maintain the laid-back, free-spirited energy in the studio.

“A lot of people that come into the studio have never picked up a paint brush before and that’s really important,” Greenwell said. “I don’t want people to be scared when they walk in the door.”

No matter the skill level, Greenwell doesn’t let anyone badmouth their work.

“There’s no talking bad about your painting, because everyone has their own skill,” Greenwell said. “If you get caught - I bring out the hula hoop and I’ll make you dance during the session.”

A graduate of East Tennessee State University with an education degree, Greenwell was a stay-at-home mom when she opened in Johnson City. She said her love of arts and crafts made her want to learn more about how to start a paint studio business.

“My kids and I would always go to the craft stores and get supplies for projects,” Greenwell said. “My cousin is the one who first told me about the business and look - here we are today.”

Masterpiece Mixers is a franchise founded in Braselton, Georgia in 2009 by Krista Goodrich, a graduate of ETSU with a degree in economics and French. Masterpiece Mixers now has several locations across Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, New Jersey and Kentucky.

Greenwell said she loves the set-up because anyone can do it. Often, she said, people come in saying they can’t paint and then end up showing off their work.

“I call it a form of cheap therapy,” Greenwell joked. “From the minute you walk in the door, no matter what kind of day you’ve had - you really don’t think about anything else but painting.”

Most two-hour sessions cost around $30. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own wine and snacks. Each painting is pre-picked and posted online in advance.

The studio also will help plan privates parties. Greenwell has dozens of paintings in her library for groups to choose from. She also offers classes for kids and couples as well as specialty classes like painting your pet.

Several posts on the Facebook page indicate that those who participate enjoy the experience.

“I haven’t enjoyed myself so much in a long time. The instructors are wonderful and there’s no criticism,” wrote Lisa Carrier.

“The ladies are super helpful with suggestions and assistance if you need it,” wrote Cassandra Sutherland.

“Experience is one in a million,” said Michelle Ramkumar.


Information from: Bristol Herald Courier, https://www.bristolnews.com

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