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BellaOnline's Painting Editor


Choosing an Art Class or Art Retreat

Guest Author - Maribeth Lysen

Taking an art class is a wonderful way of building up your art muscles. It provides a structure to your creative routine because you are committed to making time for the class. It can give you a creative breakthrough you may not have reached on your own. Taking a class in real life or online can connect you with other artists helping you to build your art community.

The first step, once you've decided you want to take a class, is to decide what kind of art class you want to take. Next think about the kind of class you want to attend. Is it a weekend art retreat where you immerse your self in several classes, a one day workshop, or perhaps a painting class at a University? There are also several fabulous online art class to be found on the web. These range from self-paced classes which you can attend at your leisure to fully accredited college classes and everything in-between.

Before you register, think about what you would like to get out of your class. Are you interested in a one-day class where you go home with a completed project? This type of class can be found your local art supply or scrapbook store. Interested in a class that demonstrates techniques that you then go home and practice? An art retreat is a good place to find technique classes. If you are looking to learn a skill like life drawing or acrylic painting, you might consider a college or online class. Participation in course which lasts through several classes over a longer period helps develop your skills.

If you are stuck in a painting rut, taking a class in another discipline can give you new found inspiration. Sometimes stepping away from our chosen medium sparks creativity back to life. If you are not sure what to take besides your primary medium, think back to something you loved as a child or teen like pottery, or jewelry making, or photography. Choose a class in that medium. If there is an art medium you love and want to learn more about, take that class. Sometimes it doesn't turn out quite like you expect but you still learn something.

A few years ago I attended an art retreat to take a soldering class for jewelry making. I purchased supplies and was very excited. I admired the instructor's work and was thrilled to learn the new technique. However, after about an hour in the class, I discovered that while I loved what was created by soldering, I didn't enjoy doing the soldering. I was much better off purchasing art from the instructor then being in her class. All was not lost because taking the class helped me refocus on what I did enjoy and I learned it was okay I didn't like doing a specific technique.

After discovering I had zero interest in soldering, despite spending money on the class and supplies which (eventually) I got over, I donated my barely used supplies and evaluated what I learned. Which leads me to budgeting. Consider your budget for an art class. In addition to the the cost of the class, you need to consider the cost of the supplies and travel. If you are attending a retreat, you may have additional costs for food and lodging. If you are taking an online class, find out if you need any additional software. Some classes also require you to pay a supply fee directly to the instructor for materials they prove. This information is generally listed in the class description or on the supply list.

To find the right class, do your research. Ask artist friends what retreats, classes, and workshops they have attended. Google instructors and check out his or her website and blog. Search online to see if there are reviews available. Online reviews are common for many of the online classes. Previous students talk about their experiences which can help you narrow down your choice. I've found some of my favorite classes by reading art blogs and seeing what other artists are taking. Watching the growth of another artist encouraged me to sign up for a fantastic painting class. It was almost better then getting a recommendation from a friend because I could see for myself the progress in the artist's work throughout the class.

In addition to college classes, art retreats, or your neighborhood art supply store, art classes can also be found at art museums, parks and recreation programs, and continuing adult education programs at your local community college. If you have a favorite artist or crafter, see if their website lists a teaching schedule or if they offer online classes. Some artists offer private classes if you gather a group of friends together. Art magazines often list classes and retreats. Check out meetup.com to find classes in your city.

Classes can vary widely in price and in quality so it is very important to take some time and do your research. Finding the right class can help you take your art to the next level.

Next week's article is all about getting the most out of your class.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Maribeth Lysen. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Maribeth Lysen. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Christine Sharbrough for details.


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