Co-workers Yan Song, left, and Stephan Choi laugh as they start a painting with their private party group in the Painting with a Twist concept in Huntington Beach. (Don Leach, HB Independent / April 3, 2014)

It doesn't take a Picasso or Van Gogh to make great art.

Just ask Sheri Kavoosi, owner of California's first Painting with a Twist franchise.

"It is all about entertainment, but here you aren't just a spectator," Kavoosi said. "You get to take part in your own entertainment, and at the end you get to take home something you created."

Painting with a Twist, where drinking and painting come together in an artistic way, opened its doors on March 20 on the border of Huntington Beach and Westminster, making it location No. 122.

The inspiration for the company came to Louisiana residents Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney in 2007 while the area was recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

"They just rented out an area and invited some friends who knew how to paint to come and run a class where they showed people how to paint a painting, step-by-step, and also served wine," Kavoosi said.

But what started as a way to bring a bit of fun to people who had lost so much caught on, prompting Deano and Maloney to rent out their first space and eventually leading to franchise expansion in 23 states.

Kavoosi said she has always had an interest in painting and enjoyed looking at art blogs and online journals, where she read about one of the franchise studios in Texas.

"I thought the concept sounded really fun and wanted to take a class like that but all I found in the area were restaurants that offer something similar, and they are pretty pricey," she said.

So she applied to open her own location. The application and approval process took almost a year, she said.

Painting with a Twist claims on its website to be one of the largest employers of aspiring artists. Candi Maldonado is one.

The painting instructor said applying for the job is like an audition.

"It isn't as simple as 'Can you paint,'" she said, "but you have to be able to lead a class, get people involved and make sure to instruct them but show them a great time."

She said working there is fun and rewarding.

"To see how people get right into it, the enjoyment on their faces and the accomplishment when they are done with a painting they were scared of is why I love my job," Maldonado said. "Well that, and I get to paint every day."

Danielle Logsdon, of Fullerton, said she saw a post about Painting with a Twist on Facebook and decided to take her husband Steve for his birthday.

"His grandmother was a painter, and he really enjoyed looking at all of her art, and wanted her to teach him to paint," she said. "So when I saw this I thought, 'This will be perfect.'"

Afterward he raved that it was the best birthday he ever had.

Logsdon said that many times when she goes out she ends up being the designated driver.

"Here I get to enjoy myself better than at a bar because I was actually doing something fun at the same time," she said. "I am not an artist at all, and I really felt like I created something beautiful."