By Sarah Hoot, SDA Journalism Intern
If you are like me, then you know that art is not your strong suit. Trust me; about the only thing I can successfully paint is abstract and even that is a stretch. Luckily, Mandie Dolezal , the owner of Mandie’s Art Parties , loves when beginners attend her painting parties.
Dolezal began her art parties about a year ago when she blended her background in art, education and business to create her own version of an art class.
“I was a teacher before and I always wanted to teach art but everyone was telling me that I wouldn’t find an art teaching job in Yakima,” Dolezal said.
Before founding Mandie’s Art Parties, Dolezal quit teaching to start her own health and nutrition business. She worked at the business for four years before deciding to go back to her dream of being an art teacher.
“I love teaching; it’s part of my passion,” Dolezal said. “And I love the art part of it. [That] has always been there for me too.”
A key moment for Dolezal was when her friend and business coach, Frank Maycock , gave her some important advice. He pointed out that women tend to be caregivers and that they tend to put everyone else first — whether that is the kids, the family, or their homes — but they tend to put themselves and their dreams on the backburner. So, that is what Dolezal set out to do — to follow her passion — with Mandie’s Art Parties.
“It’s an opportunity for girls to go have a girls’ night out or date night with your hubby, or whatever just to take a night off and relax and have fun while you’re doing it,” Dolezal said.
Luckily for Dolezal, there was a lack of art classes in Yakima at the time. In fact, she sometimes found herself going to the west side of the state to find something for her and her husband to do on their date nights. This was when Dolezal decided to use her connections with artists in the area to create her own art parties. One such artist was Chris Blevins who taught her own version of “paint and sip” art classes in Richmond using watercolor paints.
Each art party has its own unique painting for the night. Some come straight from Mandie’s imagination and some are a group effort, in which she works with the host of the party to create the theme. One of Dolezal’s original paintings — titled Unforgettable Love — features a mother elephant and her baby with intertwined trunks and little hearts. The inspiration for this painting was a statue that Mandie saw at her grandmother’s assisted living home.
“I thought ‘oh that would be a cute painting,’” Dolezal said. “So I created that one around Valentine’s Day.”
According to Dolezal, the host or hostess of the party that she works with does have some say in the creation of the painting. If there is a theme to the party, the host can request a specific type of painting to fit with the theme.
For example, one party host was throwing a surprise bridal shower for her friend, and hired Dolezal to teach a class at the party. Dolezal and the party host worked together to create the theme, the colors and the idea for the painting, which became The Midnight Dance, since the guest of honor at the party was a dancer.
Mandie’s Art Parties begin with some socializing and mingling before the class starts, and are sometimes paired with wine or other beverage tastings. Once the class gets started, Dolezal makes sure to walk her students through the process to help them create their masterpieces. She also takes special care to help those who are new to the art of painting.
“I would say about 90 percent of my students have never painted before,” Dolezal said. “And I love that. I love that they are like: ‘I don’t know what I am doing,’ and they are able to end up leaving with something they created — that they are proud of — and they are like: ‘I can’t believe I did this!’”
While Dolezal loves when people have fun at her classes, the most important part for her is the teaching. She will teach her students new techniques, and she helps those who are struggling with certain steps to find solutions to the problems they are having. Dolezal not only receives praise for her teaching methods but also for the quality of the supplies she uses and that she is a small local business and not with a company.
Though Mandie’s Art Parties travel around the Yakima Valley area, she does come to Selah quite often to help out with events like Selah Downtown Association’s Second Saturdays.
“I have always loved Selah,” Dolezal said. “My parents had a house in Selah. I have always felt very welcomed by the community and the business owners. Whitney Stohr , the executive director of SDA, was out there right away when I was having my art parties and really welcomed me and told me about all the resources available [to small business owners], like [The Roundtable: Business Academy] classes.”
Nana Kate’s café has also been a huge support to Dolezal since owner Catherine Platt opens her café up for Mandie’s Art Parties.
“I really like that collaboration with other small businesses, where we can help each other out,” Dolezal said.
“I bring Nana Kate’s customers and she sends people to my art classes,” she said.
So, if you ever see her name on the list of events, but think: “oh I can’t do that. I don’t know how to paint” — just know that you are Dolezal’s favorite type of student and that her classes are open to everybody. And don’t worry about bringing your own supplies; Dolezal will provide everything that is needed for the class. Just bring yourself and an eagerness to learn!
Sarah Hoot is a Business & Downtown Journalist Intern at Selah Downtown Association. She is currently a student studying print journalism at Central Washington University and a “Scene Editor” for the CWU Observer student newspaper. Sarah was raised in Marysville, WA, and is the oldest child in a family of six. She enjoys Dr. Who, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Firefly, as well as knitting, reading and coloring.
Note from the Editor: This article is part of an ongoing series of posts authored by SDA volunteers, student interns and board members that seek to highlight local businesses and encourage residents to “shop local” and “shop small” in downtown Selah.