In my last article I discussed setting up a journal and writing goals related to your life and your art. If one of the goals was to increase your education, but you don’t know where to find classes, this article might help you get started.
While I was recently at my Boise clinic job, a patient thought that I looked familiar to them. We went through the usual list of “maybe our kids went to school together, or do you go to the Saturday market, or do you paint?” After this question, I found out that this particular patient’s wife did indeed love to paint, but had no idea how to find a painting class/teacher in our area. In this article, I would like to offer suggestions of how you might also find a teacher in your own area.
I belong to a number of artist groups within my own city and throughout the country, and use these outlets to introduce myself as a teacher. However, a new artist/student may not be familiar with these organizations and the opportunities they afford. Beginning at the city level, there are several ways to identify activity in your art community.
Boutiques/Galleries Typically, if you are interested in art, you attend local shows, boutiques and galleries within your city. Let’s say you are at an art show and stop at the booth because you make a connection with their art. Most of the artists attend to their own booths and are happy to talk to you. Ask if these artists offer private lesions, and if they have suggestions for classes or teachers in the area.
You probably spend time in craft/hobby/art stores to collect inspiration and supplies but may have overlooked this connection to art education. There are many great teachers at your local stores that have wonderful techniques and styles to share. If there are no scheduled classes at your favorite store, talk to the store manager or department clerks to see if they have any suggestions about classes in your area. If you have the opportunity to get into a class, ask the other students where they attend classes or if they know of other instructors in the area.
Bookstore/Library I spend a lot of time at bookstores and my local library leafing through magazines for inspiration and education. The great part is that you have an opportunity to see the project, read through the instructions and see if you connect with the artist. Most of the magazines will list the artists’ websites and/or addresses and phone numbers. Visit their sites to see what else they offer. You might see that they have online classes or sell instructional DVDs and patterns.
Internet The Internet has expanded our range and ability to find artists not only in our own communities but in neighboring areas and states. You can easily search online for art teachers by city and state. Look for artist organizations in your area by searching on the Internet or in your local paper.
Don’t ignore painting or artist organizations. When you find a listed organization in your area, visit their website and see what kind of meetings and classes are offered. You will be surprised at the range of talent in your own town. Don’t hesitate to attend a meeting or call the membership chairman to see how the organization works. Our local painting group has several teachers as members and they all teach different styles and techniques. We are lucky enough to paint once a month with these teachers, as well as artists from around the country. We are also part of a larger organization with teachers and shops in every state and several different countries. Visit http://www.decorativepainters.org/ for more information.
I recently found a couple of great classes and organizations on Craigslist. There is a special section called Communitythat has a link to artists and classes. Check out your own area to see if there is something listed that you might find enjoyable. There are several ways to find particular instruction online. You can easily search for watercolor instruction, painting techniques, decorative art, landscapes, etc. by just using keywords in your search.
Schools If you have children or grandchildren still in school, talk to the teachers or even check out your local University. There are lots of summer classes or short semester classes for art that might give you not only a great education, but a little more self-confidence in your own ability.
Word of Mouth Never underestimate the power of networking. I attend many events in my town that are not art related, but find that most of the people I talk with have some kind of interest in art, music or dance. This kind of interaction has led me to expanding my own interests in other forms of art and has even helped me find an alphorn maker and carpenter that I worked with for several years.
Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new car, everyone seems to be driving one just like you? Well, this same thing happens when you begin to search for art education in your own community. You will begin to see art instructors everywhere!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!