Chautauqua Art Classes call to aspiring artists

Photo by Charity Maness/FRC Herald Star

Artist Debra Shannon instructs Doris Brown of Gordon, Nebraska, on the finer aspects of Mandala Dot Art.


By Charity Maness

HOT SPRINGS – Art classes offered through the Chautauqua Artisans and Craftsmen of the Black Hills in Hot Springs have made their name in the artist community as students travel many miles to attend the artisans eclectic and inspiring courses.

The most recent course offered was the art of creating Mandalas.

Mandala is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning circle. Creating art with circles placed in an organized order creates not only something beautiful, it is said to also be a spiritual path.

“I have taken all kinds of classes here,” said Doris Brown of Gordon, Neb., in attendance at the Mandala Dot Art class at Chautauqua Artisans Market Saturday July 16. “I like taking all kinds of art classes.” While her favorite form of art is painting, she has tried her hand at spinning, weaving and more through the courses offered at Chatauqua Artisan’s Market.

“I tried to enroll in the last Mandala class offered here but it was full,” said Karen Slancauskas of Box Elder, “so when I saw it was being offered again I signed up immediately.”

“Yes, Karen’s name was the first on the list,” said Mandala instructor Debbie Shannon, owner of Hand Painted by Debra.

Shannon has been instructing the finer aspects of painting Mandalas for approximately two years.

“I just love art,” she said of her passion, “and during COVID I felt the need to learn more.” Enter Mandala art. “I began by painting phone grips and soon added wine glasses, coffee cups and more,” she said.

While Shannon thoroughly enjoys every part of teaching she says the most important thing to learn about painting Mandalas is “using the correct tool and the correct tool diameter.”

Each student was given a template Mandala to start with and used their own imagination to choose their own color choices to create their art.

“Choosing colors to match was pretty tricky,” said Gabby Smith, 9, of Hot Springs, “but it’s really fun.”

After choosing the seemingly infinite number of color combinations of acrylic paints the next step was the delicate placement of perfectly sized dots.

“Trying to get the dots even is challenging,” said Slancauskas, but admits that it’s relatively relaxing; almost Zen like.

“I try to get them to stand and stretch,” said Shannon, “but they are just so creative they won’t stop.”

Shannon’s favorite part of teaching, after meeting all the aspiring artists, is seeing the variety of finished products.

“Everyone starts with the same template,” she said, “but each one ends so differently; so beautiful.”

Shannon is expanding her instruction to include seniors.

“I am branching out to teach residents of age,” she said, focusing on those in rest homes and retirement homes. “I enjoy watching them create art while also creating a beautiful sense of their self worth.”

For more info on additional classes offered at Chautauqua Artisans visit them at 629 N. River Street, Hot Springs, or their website at

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
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