Local business allows artists to paint while drinking wine


Ayla Dollar, an artist and a studio manager at Wine and Canvas teaches the participants a step-by-step painting on the Cookies and Canvas’s painting workshop Saturday during the Arts Fair on the Square. She guides the participants on how to draw a couple of giraffe using various watercolors. Stella Devina and Stella Devina Buy Photos

Wine and Canvas is a place for people to do exactly what the name says — drink wine and paint on gallery wrapped canvases.

Songs like “Unwritten”, “Tainted Love” and “Sweet Caroline” play as customers paint and drink their wine while chatting. In a fridge labeled “Got Wine?” customers can choose from 15 different wines, such as Jacob’s Creek and Brancott, along with various soft drinks, chips, candy and 
cheese platters.

“If you get stressed at any point, you probably just need more wine,” said artist Taylor Oligee, 22, while teaching a class at Wine 
and Canvas.

The Wine and Canvas located at 135 N Gates Dr. in Bloomington is owned by Sarah Wathen, 33, and her husband Josh Wathen, 36, who live in Florida. The location officially launched in the spring of 2011.

While Josh was deployed, Sarah went out with friends to the Wine and Canvas in Indianapolis to get her mind off things. She said she loved it immediately and became a frequent customer there. One evening, the owners mentioned opening up more locations.

“My husband was born and raised in Bloomington, and I immediately knew it’s what I wanted and needed to do,” Sarah said. “I got their contact information and a few months later we started the process to bring Wine and Canvas to 

Classes typically last three hours, with a 15-minute break at the halfway point. During this break, customers are able to walk around, admire their work, get more wine and chat with each other.

Wine and Canvas also has a mid-painting raffle during this break where people from the class are entered to receive prizes, such as paintings from the artists. Each class typically contains around 40 to 50 people, and there are several classes each week.

Oligee, who discovered Wine and Canvas through a friend, has now worked at Wine and Canvas for almost three years. She said her favorite part of working there is getting to use her creative skills and spread them to other participants.

“This studio is great, the lighting is awesome here and the supplies are endless,” Oligee said.

Wine and Canvas holds classes in Bloomington and has other locations in 25 states, including several in Indiana.

“The best part about this class is definitely the wine,” said Stephanie Walker, 27, with a laugh. “This is my fifth time here. I never finished a painting in high school, but this class actually makes me finish my paintings.”

Even six years after opening the business, every painting brings Sarah joy and is a way for her to relax, she said.

“It’s easy to block out the outside world and just focus on being creative and calm,” Sarah said.

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