Tap your inner Picasso, van Gogh or Rodin with an art class!
As the education director at Dunwoody’s Spruill Center for the Arts, Amy Gresens is seeing first-hand one of the leading lessons of a long pandemic lockdown.
“A lot of people are rediscovering their creative sides,” says Gresens, who’s been teaching at the center since 2010.
“Many of them thought about getting into the arts and just didn’t do it. But since we reopened in late May 2020, we’ve had so many new students.” Many are making up for lost time, enrolling in classes that run the gamut from basic watercolors to complex ceramics.
“We have a good range for people who have never done anything to those who want to brush up their skills,” says Gresens. “They can do that in one-day workshops or sessions that go from five to 10 weeks. We pretty much have classes seven days a week in the morning, midday or evening for all ages.”
Ceramics classes fill up first and fast, says Gresens, because the center offers materials, workspaces and kilns few artists have at home. “Ceramics are a big investment. You could get a wheel to throw on at home, but then you’d have to fire it somewhere. Here, that’s part of the class.”
Sculptor Martin Dawe, owner of the Cherrylion Studios on the westside, also offers students the space and guidance to start sculpting— a craft that can get messy without a dedicated studio.
“It’s very difficult; I’ve been doing this for 47 years, and I learn more every time I do it,” says Dawe, whose work includes the Martin Luther King Jr. statue at the state capitol. “So we start off with parts of the figure. We meet once a week for 10 weeks with two live-model sessions, then fire the pieces and have a fun finishing class when people paint them or make them look like bronze.”
The classes attract all levels, but participants usually have two things in common, says Dawe. “They are so sweet and creative. Some have been coming for 20 years because they love having their hands in mud, and they’ve become good friends and colleagues. People get addicted to it.”
Ceramics, jewelry making, framing, papermaking and painting are a few of the options on the course schedule at the Chastain Arts Center in Buckhead. Facility Manager Alma Kadri says the multi-week ceramics sessions fill quickly, but would-be artists can also sign up for shorter workshops often led by local artists. It’s also one of the few area studios to offer the gas reduction firing method designed to make colors pop.
While some would-be Monets sign up for a class just to see if they’ll like it, some may find it life changing. Dawe worked with one student who made a career out of sculpting. And Gresens first went to Spruill to learn jewelry making and wound up with a second income by selling it. “Well, you end up with so much you have to do something with it,” she says.
Prices for art classes can range from $50 for a half-day workshop to $350 for a multi-week session. Some programs have additional charges for materials. Check the program catalogs for complete details.
CHASTAIN ARTS CENTER
SPRUILL CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Atlanta-based writer and editor contributing to a number of local and state-wide publications. Instructor in Georgia State’s Communication department and Emory’s Continuing Education division.