PLAINFIELD – When Dottie Mueller was a child, she was frequently ill, so she spent her time painting and creating art.
“We didn’t have Cartoon Network those days, so I would just practice,” said Mueller, of Romeoville. “I blossomed through that.”
Now, Mueller has her own art studio, Dottie’s Art Studio in Plainfield, and hosts “Cork and Canvas” wine and art events where adult students can replicate paintings under her guidance – from reproductions of iconic art masterpieces to landscapes or photographs.
Mueller will lead “Painting With Wine” on March 20 at the Joliet Historical Museum. Development Director Mike Brick said the event has the potential to connect the community with art and culture in a fun, hands-on way.
Brick won’t paint because he will work the event, but he is excited about being there just the same.
“I have a certain expectation in my head,” Brick said. “It will be fun to observe.”
Mueller, who has taught children’s art courses for 15 years and has about 40 students this year, said she never saw herself teaching adults. She was pleasantly surprised at how fulfilling it can be.
“So often, these adults come in and say, ‘I can’t even make a stick figure,’ ” Mueller said. “They are always happy when they leave with a nice painting. They can’t believe they did this. It gives me a thrill.”
Cheryl Close of Shorewood is one student who didn’t think she could create art until she went to one of Mueller’s events with a group of friends.
“We had a blast. The paintings all came out amazing,” Close said. “We were floored because we thought we would just waste a few hours painting, then go home and hide them in the garage.”
But Close – who has since attended three more “Cork and Canvas” evenings – said she hung up all her paintings on her back patio. What Close most appreciated was Mueller’s ability to make even the most inexperienced student feel at ease, she said.
“Even if you’re not an artist, it’s a lot of fun,” she said.
Mueller, who didn’t take art classes as a child, credits her father for teaching her the foundations and basics. Although her father never worked professionally as an artist, he had taken courses in college and shares Mueller’s love for art and painting.
He was the one, she said, who prodded her eventually to enroll in formal art courses.
“I wanted to go to school to be a teacher. My dad said, ‘Well, education is fine. But try out an art major, first,’ ” Mueller said.
In the end, Mueller said, they both got their wish. Teaching art has brought together her two biggest passions – children and art. However, religion and faith also play a large role in her life and her work, she said.
Mueller said she likes to use her art to touch people’s lives. She accomplishes this through extensive faith-based art projects and pet portraiture. She said her first professional opportunity as an artist came when she began volunteering at a church after her mother had died. She was then hired to transform a banquet room into a prayer space.
This was significant for Mueller because it allowed her to make new connections and showcase her work to the religious community. Although her main focus is teaching and hosting art studio events, Mueller said she also is painting eight 10-foot-tall angels to go on the ceiling of St. Dennis Church in Lockport.
Mueller said the annual art show, featuring work created by the children she teaches, is one of the best experiences for her as a teacher. She hopes to get her adult students involved in a showing, as well. Another goal is to help through charitable giving.
For instance, April will signify Mueller’s first anniversary in her own studio. To commemorate the accomplishment, Mueller said she plans to donate a portion her art studio’s proceeds to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
“Of course, I’m not a huge enterprise,” Mueller said. “But I would love to see that grow and be able to afford to do that more than once a year. It just makes me feel good if I am giving back.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Painting With Wine
WHEN: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. March 20
WHERE: Joliet Area Historical Museum, 204 N. Ottawa St., Joliet
ETC: Create masterpiece, cash bar, free access to museum galleries and exhibits
TICKETS: $40 (museum members) and $45 (nonmembers)
CONTACT: Liz McNeil, special events manager, at 815-723-5201, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org