Where to take art classes in Canada (or at home)

Stimulate your creative side by taking classes in painting, sculpture, fibre arts or one of a number of other courses available across Canada and online

Where to take art classes in Canada (or at home)

Source: Web exclusive: September 2011

When was the last time you learned something new just for the pure joy of it?

We all need a creative outlet, a way to explore and express ourselves. As kids, we felt free to dive right into the fingerpaint or the plasticine and just create, letting our imaginations run riot. If you’re craving that kind of creative inspiration in your life, consider signing up for an art class’think of it as a gift to your inner child.

Don’t know where to start searching? Your community probably offers options that suit your interests and your lifestyle. Read on for inspiration.

Art galleries and museums often have creative programs. For example, the Art Gallery of Alberta, located in Edmonton, offers art history workshops based on its current exhibitions, as well as acrylic painting and a drop-in studio. Toronto’s Gardiner Ceramic Museum offers classes in wheel-thrown pottery, stonework and mould-making. (At your local gallery or museum, ask about discounted fees for members.)

Art schools offer a wide variety of classes to the public. The Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, for instance, teaches subjects such as drawing, photography, sculpture, animation and digital media.

School boards, arts or community centres, libraries and municipalities
are great sources of affordable evening and weekend art classes. The City of Regina, for example, has courses in drawing, jewellery making, photography, painting, quilting, woodworking and more. The Saint John Arts Centre in New Brunswick teaches drawing, mosaics and sewing. Contact organizations in your city to see what’s coming up.

Universities and colleges also have a wealth of art class opportunities. Winnipeg’s Community School of Music and the Arts, run by the Canadian Mennonite University, offers painting, animation and other subjects. OCAD University in Toronto has classes in painting, drawing, fibre arts and more. To find out what’s available where you live, call or visit the continuing education office at post-secondary schools.

Studios run by artists often have smaller, more intimate workshops. Look for classes in printmaking, pottery, sewing, metalworking, glass blowing, jewellery and other crafts. If you admire an artist’s work at an art show, check if he or she offers lessons or workshops.

Artists’ organizations in your area may hold events such as lectures and workshops, led by their members or guest speakers. Keep an eye out for announcements in the arts and culture section of your town’s newspaper or do a search on the Internet for groups in your area.

Artists’ retreats offer an immersive, intensive experience (as well as a chance to travel), and many courses are open to beginners. Learn weaving on Salt Spring Island, B.C., pastel drawing in Cape Cod, or even Tibetan painting at a Buddhist retreat centre in Vermont.

Websites are a convenient option to learn more about art, especially if you don’t live near a place where classes are offered. You’ll find how-to videos on everything from acrylic painting to jewellery making. For added inspiration, visit the websites of famous institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre, which have digitized many items from their collections and made them available for viewing online.

Apps for your smartphone or tablet also help you get better acquainted with art. There are downloadable apps available from big-name galleries such as the National Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. Once you’re inspired, download an app that lets you get your creative juices flowing, such as DrawCast for iPhone, and whip up a masterpiece on your morning commute.

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